Eastern Orthodox Christianity and American Higher Education: Theological, Historical, and Contemporary Reflections 978-0268101268

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Eastern Orthodox Christianity and American Higher Education: Theological, Historical, and Contemporary Reflections

Table of contents :
Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: Piecing the Puzzle of Eastern 1
Orthodox Christian Involvement in American
Higher Education
Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides
Part I. Historical and Theological Roots
CHAPTER 1 Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the 55
Orthodox Tradition
John A. McGuckin
CHAPTER 2 Wisdom and Education: An Old Testament 80
Michael C. Legaspi
CHAPTER 3 A Rhetoric Fit for the Gospel: Education in the 102
Letters of Saint Paul
George L. Parsenios
CHAPTER 4 “Learn from Me”: Embodied Knowledge through 115
Imitation in Early Christian Pedagogy
Bruce N. Beck
CHAPTER 5 Plundering the Egyptians: The Use of Classical 140
Paideia in the Early Church
John Behr
CHAPTER 6 Orthodox Monasticism and Higher Education 155
Andrew Louth
CHAPTER 7 Thoughts from Orthodoxy’s Modern Past: 167
Theology, Religion, and the University in Russia
(Late Nineteenth to Early Twentieth Centuries)
Vera Shevzov
Part II. Engaging the Contemporary Academy
CHAPTER 8 An Orthodox University in Lebanon: A Rich 201
Legacy and Insistent Calling
Georges N. Nahas
CHAPTER 9 An Orthodox College 223
Candace Hetzner
CHAPTER 10 Ecumenism in the Classroom: An Orthodox 241
Perspective on Teaching in a Catholic University
Radu Bordeianu
CHAPTER 11 Theosis and Theological Literacy: Identity 256
Formation and Teaching Theology to Undergraduates
Aristotle Papanikolaou
CHAPTER 12 Perspectives from the Academy: Being Orthodox 266
and a Scientist
Gayle E. Woloschak
CHAPTER 13 Singing the Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land: 279
Teaching Orthodox Liturgical Music in
Non-Orthodox Contexts
Alexander Lingas
CHAPTER 14 In the World, for the Life of the World: 315
Personal Reflections on Being a Professor and
Priest in a Public University
Michael Plekon
CHAPTER 15 The Absence of Eastern Orthodoxy in American 331
Academia and Its Possible Relevance for an Integral
Vision of Reality
Kyriacos C. Markides
CHAPTER 16 Reflections on Political Science and the Study of 343
Orthodox Christianity in the American Academy:
Thoughts on Mainstream and Margins
Elizabeth H. Prodromou
CHAPTER 17 The Transfiguration Polyeleos, Textbooks, and 365
Polyphonic Learning
Roy R. Robson
CHAPTER 18 Vocation, Poetry, and Prayer 379
Scott Cairns
CHAPTER 19 Faith and Learning in Higher Education: 393
Historical Reflections for Contemporary Challenges
Andrea Sterk
List of Contributors 421
Index 427

Citation preview



Edited by

A nn M itsAkos B ezzerides And e lizABeth h. P rodroMou

University of Notre Dame Press Notre Dame, Indiana

University of Notre Dame Press Notre Dame, Indiana 46556 www.undpress.nd.edu Copyright © 2017 by University of Notre Dame All Rights Reserved Published in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Bezzerides, Ann Mitsakos, editor. | Prodromou, Elizabeth H., editor. Title: Eastern Orthodox Christianity and American higher education : theological, historical, and contemporary reflections / edited by Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides and Elizabeth H. Prodromou. Description: Notre Dame : University of Notre Dame Press, 2017. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016039777 (print) | LCCN 2016041888 (ebook) | ISBN 9780268101268 (hardcover : alk. paper) | ISBN 0268101264 (hardcover : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780268101282 (pdf ) | ISBN 9780268101299 (epub) Subjects: LCSH: Learning and scholarship—Religious aspects— Orthodox Eastern Church. | Orthodox Eastern Church—Doctrines. | Education, Higher—United States. Classification: LCC LC321 .E377 2016 (print) | LCC LC321 (ebook) | DDC 378/.07—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016039777 ISBN 9780268101282 ∞ This paper meets the requirements of ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992 (Permanence of Paper).

This e-Book was converted from the original source file by a third-party vendor. Readers who notice any formatting, textual, or readability issues are encouraged to contact the publisher at [email protected].


Acknowledgments Introduction: Piecing the Puzzle of Eastern Orthodox Christian Involvement in American Higher Education Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides

ix 1

Part I. Historical and Theological Roots CHAPTER 1

Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition John A. McGuckin



Wisdom and Education: An Old Testament Perspective Michael C. Legaspi



A Rhetoric Fit for the Gospel: Education in the Letters of Saint Paul George L. Parsenios



“Learn from Me”: Embodied Knowledge through Imitation in Early Christian Pedagogy Bruce N. Beck



Plundering the Egyptians: The Use of Classical Paideia in the Early Church John Behr





Orthodox Monasticism and Higher Education Andrew Louth



Thoughts from Orthodoxy’s Modern Past: Theology, Religion, and the University in Russia (Late Nineteenth to Early Twentieth Centuries) Vera Shevzov


Part II. Engaging the Contemporary Academy CHAPTER 8

An Orthodox University in Lebanon: A Rich Legacy and Insistent Calling Georges N. Nahas



An Orthodox College Candace Hetzner



Ecumenism in the Classroom: An Orthodox Perspective on Teaching in a Catholic University Radu Bordeianu


C H A P T E R 11

Theosis and Theological Literacy: Identity 256 Formation and Teaching Theology to Undergraduates Aristotle Papanikolaou


Perspectives from the Academy: Being Orthodox and a Scientist Gayle E. Woloschak



Singing the Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land: Teaching Orthodox Liturgical Music in Non-Orthodox Contexts Alexander Lingas


C H A P T E R 14

In the World, for the Life of the World: Personal Reflections on Being a Professor and Priest in a Public University Michael Plekon




C H A P T E R 15

The Absence of Eastern Orthodoxy in American 331 Academia and Its Possible Relevance for an Integral Vision of Reality Kyriacos C. Markides


Reflections on Political Science and the Study of Orthodox Christianity in the American Academy: Thoughts on Mainstream and Margins Elizabeth H. Prodromou


C H A P T E R 17

The Transfiguration Polyeleos, Textbooks, and Polyphonic Learning Roy R. Robson


C H A P T E R 18

Vocation, Poetry, and Prayer Scott Cairns


Afterword C H A P T E R 19

Faith and Learning in Higher Education: 393 Historical Reflections for Contemporary Challenges Andrea Sterk

List of Contributors Index

421 427


A first word of thanks must go to Nicholas Belcher, who in 2006, as the assistant director of the Office of Vocation & Ministry (OVM) at Hellenic College in Brookline, Massachusetts, dreamt up the first Faith and Learning Symposium for Orthodox Christian college students in the greater Boston area. The symposium was named for a ninth-century patriarch of Constantinople, St. Photios, who brought together secular learning and Orthodox Christian faith. John Behr and Vera Shevzov delivered the keynotes, and it was their insights that provoked us to recognize how much more there was to explore. This project has had so many gracious collaborators along the way. Tony Vrame led OVM’s collaboration with the Orthodox Theological Society in America to host two conferences on the topic in 2008 and 2009. The 2008 keynote by Andrea Sterk took our scholarship on the topic to a new level. Tal Howard offered tremendous feedback at both conferences and at several stages. Bruce Beck coached that a volume should be compiled. Thomas Lelon illuminated Hellenic’s institutional history while Candace Hetzner and Maria Mackavey led rich conversations among the faculty about the curriculum. As the volume began to take shape, Vasili Shairer helped us with research into the wider conversation on faith and learning in the American academy. Susan Holman and Jennifer Mosher were critical thinking partners as several essays evolved. Across the years, OVM team members provided insight and encouragement. Hellenic College Holy Cross librarian Joachim Cotsonis thoughtfully tracked down sources. Many more wonderful people could be named; we are so deeply grateful for the broader academic community’s time and investment into this project. ix



We would also like to especially thank Vera Shevzov. Her willingness to critically read and offer comments on various chapters in this collection, as well as her historical perspective, proved invaluable throughout this project. We are deeply grateful for the time she gave and the energy she exerted in helping to see this volume come to fruition, as well as for the challenging questions she posed in the process. Finally, our most important word of thanks goes to Lilly Endowment Inc. for providing founding and sustaining support to the OVM from 2003 to 2102 through a grant to Hellenic College for Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation. Special gratitude goes to Craig Dykstra and Chris Coble, who have been amazing encouragers of our work. In asking grantees to be authentically themselves, to bring forth the best of their religious tradition for their work, you gave Orthodox Christians new breathing room to articulate intersections between our ancient tradition and American higher education. We are deeply grateful and hope that this volume will be fodder for continuing robust conversations in the decades ahead.

INTRODUCTI O N Piecing the Puzzle of Eastern Orthodox Christian Involvement in American Higher Education

A nn M itsAkos B ezzerides

Over the last two decades the American academy has engaged in a wideranging discourse on faith and learning, Christianity and higher education. Among the Christian voices that have weighed in on these topics, Orthodox Christians are not merely underrepresented; they are not represented at all. This is not because no one has cared to listen but because scholars of the Orthodox tradition have rarely participated in these conversations. The first question that provoked the compilation of this volume is the simple one, why are the Orthodox absent? Why is it that when Orthodox Christians—who trace their spiritual and theological heritage back to the earliest Christian schools of thought—immigrated to the United States, they did not set out to build their own set of colleges?1 A generation or so later, when Orthodox Christians had reached a measure of financial success and the ability to be philanthropic, why did they not contribute widely to funding professorships and chairs at colleges and universities?2 In broader terms, why do we not find among Orthodox theologians and scholars in America a robust and sustained discussion around the relationship of faith and learning—especially within the last 1


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several decades, when Protestants and Roman Catholics have been hard at work in these areas?3 The questions become even more interesting—and the stakes in an Orthodox response potentially even higher—when we observe the current contours of the literature on the relationship between faith and knowledge, religion and the academy in the United States. From this literature, questions and ideas emerge that highlight that this topic is not a quaint idea meant for dusty library volumes, but is pressing for anyone involved in twenty-first-century higher education. This introduction begins by highlighting key elements of this wide body of scholarship in a way that helps illumine the importance of the conversation today. It next turns to how and why this particular collection of essays emerged, and offers historical responses to our initial questions. The third section suggests some themes that surface from the essays organically and gives a rough outline of some key issues that the Orthodox naturally address on this topic. The conclusion looks at where we go from here, suggesting where the conversation might next lead.


Since the 1994 publication of George Marsden’s The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Disestablishment to Established Nonbelief, the academy has produced well over fifty volumes on the relationship between faith, religion, and higher education. A few of the volumes describe the demise of the relationship between faith and higher education—for both religious higher education and the relationship of Christianity to the secular academy—but most of the volumes offer new models and insight with intellectual rigor.4 In 2000, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University sponsored a conference entitled “The Future of Religious Colleges”; the introduction to the proceedings begins, “A student of religious higher education could describe the last decade of the twentieth century as a time of revitalization.”5 Over a decade later, the revitalization continues: 2012 saw Oxford University Press publish No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education, in which Douglas and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen convincingly demonstrate the “return” of religion to



higher education based on their visits to more than fifty campuses across the United States.6 In the academy today, the conversation about the relationship between faith and learning, religion and higher education is gaining increased attention and traction. How Is the Story Told?

Over the last two decades, a recurrent topic in the scholarship is the mainline Protestant heritage of “pace-setting” universities—such as Harvard, William and Mary, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, Dartmouth.7 These institutions had founding missions that were clearly designed to support a vision of a Protestant Christian nation and produce pastors to lead this effort—institutional missions that many academics at these institutions today might find surprising.8 Indeed, as one scholar notes, Perhaps the most peculiar of contemporary academic biases concerns religion. In many scholarly circles, religion is generally regarded as one of two things: a matter of personal preference, like one’s taste in clothes; or else, embarrassing evidence of a mind not quite trained in . . . “twentieth-century modes of thought.” As far as many faculty are concerned, religious convictions are well and good, so long as the believer understands that they are on the same level as a desire to eat chocolate.9 Amidst this bias, Protestant scholars spearheaded the recent effort to reexamine this heritage, yet not with a wishful hope to reinstitute a Protestant establishment but rather with a tempered, self-critical approach. This historical reckoning does not then lead them to advocate for the ultimate retreat of Christianity from the academic sphere. Rather, it finds them opening doors to the possibilities of new varieties of the ways in which faith and learning may relate. With this, the literature not only raises issues that should resonate with Orthodox academics, but actually asks for Orthodox involvement.10 The aforementioned study by George Marsden, professor of history emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, traces the dramatic change


Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides

from the strongly Protestant heritage of the pace-setting American universities to an academic landscape that has all but forgotten this legacy. He argues that the push to relegate religion to the periphery of American universities was justified essentially on academic grounds that trace their roots to Enlightenment ideals.11 Religious viewpoints were seen to be not only unscientific, but also socially disruptive. There was an increasing realization that the Protestant establishment had excluded Jews, Roman Catholics, and others from the front ranks of American education in the name of building a united society.12 Recognition of the discriminatory dimensions of faith-based higher education was one of the major factors forcing final disestablishment. Marsden’s aim is to present this disestablishment as “a good development with ironic consequences”: the zeal led to an overcorrection that left higher education with inadequate ways to accommodate faith-informed scholarship.13 Marsden, a product of the Calvinist Reformed tradition, tells the story in a self-critical way. His analysis—as we shall see below— does not ultimately determine the faith-learning relationship to be fatally flawed, but opens new doors and raises new, perhaps better questions.14 In addition, scholars from a range of theological traditions are looking back in order to open possibilities for broader contemporary discussion. One important example of this is by a team of academics led by Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, who examine the faithlearning relationship that prevailed among Christian colleges during the last half of the twentieth century. A commonly championed phrase of this era to describe the relationship was “the integration of faith and learning.” The Jacobsens argue it stood for a model that “basically meant that faith has the right, and indeed the duty, to critique learning but that learning has no authority to critique faith.”15 In order to open space for alternate understandings of the way the faith-learning relationship can be conceived, they critique this dominant model. Scholarship of this kind often ends up being both derivative and pedantic. It is derivative because it waits for the academy at large to produce new ideas and then critiques them on the basis of Christian faith, and it is pedantic in its pose as the long-suffering teacher who must repeatedly instruct the recalcitrant academy in the folly of its ways. In its worst forms, this attitude can blend into what the Christian philosopher Merold Westphal has called the sometimes “criminal arrogance of religion” in the



realm of scholarship: the haughty illusion that our views of God, the world, and ourselves are both incontestably true and unquestionably God-blessed. Westphal recommends that a harsh hermeneutic of suspicion be applied to all such claims. While faith may provide Christian scholars with certain important clues concerning the deep nature of the universe that others lack, the ways Christians interpret those revelatory clues are as subject to error as the thinking of anyone else. There is no room for epistemological arrogance in Christian scholarship.16 The Jacobsens observe that the integration model promotes conflict rather than conversation, because in it the task of Christian scholarship is promoted as one of conquest: an antisecular crusade for truth.17 It implicitly defines the singular path that all Christian scholarship should take regardless of a scholar’s own understanding of faith or his or her particular discipline. Moreover, this approach contains an attitude towards Christian scholarship that is “hyperphilosophical,” for it asks Christian academics to temporarily become philosophers—instead of being physicists, biologists, artists, engineers—whenever they want to attempt the specific activity of doing Christian scholarship.18 The Jacobsens critique this historical trajectory of the faith-learning relationship in order to open space for more possibilities and ways of conceiving of the relationship. They point out that most of the champions of the integration model have been Reformed, out of the Calvinist tradition, and while they have not broadcast their Calvinistic predispositions in their writings on Christian scholarship, that tradition undergirds the approach.19 Reformed theology emphasizes the radically fallen nature of the world; at its very roots, creation has gone wrong. Christians are supposed to model how God intended humanity to live, and are supposed to resubdue the created order, helping the world to acknowledge God and submit to God’s will. The integration model is therefore part of the larger aim of bringing a distinctively Christian perspective to the effort to understand the created order. The Jacobsens argue that this Reformed vision—while posing a powerful and coherent picture of the way faith and learning should relate—is only one way of understanding the relationship: Scholars from other traditions can gain insights from the integration model, but other Christian scholars—whether the Catholic, Wesleyan, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Anabaptist, or any other non-Reformed


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tradition—will probably feel they are speaking a second language of sorts if they try to adopt the integration model in its entirety. Some of the core theological concerns of non-Reformed Christian traditions simply do not translate into integration-speak. Thus there is a need to acknowledge and nurture the development of other models of Christian scholarship that can stand alongside and complement the Reformed, integrationist approach.20 As the Jacobsens suggest possibilities for future work, they mention the Eastern Orthodox tradition among others as having a theological tradition that, if taken seriously, will “produce visions of Christian scholarship that differ from the dominant model of integration.”21 The most dominant alternate model, of course, is the example of Roman Catholic higher education in the United States. While Roman Catholic higher education predated Protestant higher education in Europe, with the first universities evolving out of cathedral and monastery schools, it was a latecomer in the United States and was treated as distinctively second-class.22 Early Colonial vitriol towards all people and things Catholic was fierce. Thomas Albert Howard notes, “Like much else in American history, it perhaps all started in 1620 with the Mayflower, when William Brewster lugged across the Atlantic an English translation of the Venetian historian Paulo Sarpi’s venomous attack on the Council of Trent and the institution of the papacy.”23 The Protestant establishment understood education as a way of assimilating other traditions into an American heritage and treated Catholics as second class for persisting in having their own schools.24 Marsden notes that by the turn of the twentieth century there were many Roman Catholic colleges and universities, but these were small, having a total collegiate enrollment of less than seven thousand.25 The character of these institutions was substantially different from Protestant colleges of the time, for they were staffed by members of religious orders and had not adjusted to American curricular patterns, typically offering six- or seven-year courses for boys only that combined preparatory and collegiate courses on a European gymnasium model. Rome was often heavy handed in asserting its control over both the colleges and their faculty.26 It was not until the 1960s that Roman Catholic colleges and universities fully “shed the ghetto mentality” that was a strong marker of



Catholic life; they now strive to preserve a distinctively Roman Catholic character while fully integrating into the American academy.27 As Roman Catholic scholars look back on their own history of higher education in the United States, they also critically appraise the mistakes of the Roman Catholic Church and its presence in American higher education. Mark W. Roche of the University of Notre Dame, in his essay “The Intellectual Appeal of Catholicism,” asserts at the outset the need to clearly assess the darker moments of the Roman Catholic tradition: “In defending the idea of a Catholic university, I seek to emphasize the highest dimensions of the Catholic tradition, those which have allowed the church to criticize its own most deficient moments and those which can foster a great university.”28 We also see a keen interest in an active dialogue between Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars around the relationship between faith and learning for higher education.29 Leading Roman Catholic institutions and scholars are moving the conversation forward in ways that should, at the very least, intrigue the Orthodox. What we surmise from a cursory review of historiography is that Christian scholars are now looking back at their heritage in higher education not with a wishful hope to reinstitute a golden age of a Christian nation but rather with a tempered, self-critical approach—an approach which invites scholars today to be open to the possibilities of new varieties of the ways in which faith and learning relate in twenty-first-century American higher education. This not only allows Orthodox Christians to be more comfortable with the trajectory of the current conversation, but also specifically posits the Orthodox tradition as a source for significant learning, serving as an invitation to join. What Is the Relationship between Faith and Knowledge?

Critical distance between faith, religion, and the academy is often seen as a sign of progress, especially given the ways in which they have related historically. Yet increasingly scholars are arguing that the modern dichotomy between faith and knowledge, while having certain positive ramifications, has had ultimately negative consequences for the academy.30 The Jacobsens’ most recent book is in many ways the story of how the American academy is now recovering from the split.31


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Douglas Sloan, professor emeritus of history and education at Teachers College, Colombia University, expounds on how the understanding of the relationship between faith and knowledge is slowly changing in the academy.32 An “onlooker stance in knowing” that dominated modern times has been seriously challenged by participatory conceptions of knowing coming from many directions: from ecological studies, from women’s studies, from hermeneutics, and from quantum physics. The mechanistic worldview has been challenged by organic metaphors deriving from sources as diverse as Whiteheadian process thought, ecology (again), and philosophical phenomenology. Even the assumption that all genuine knowledge is sense-bound is being questioned in some quarters—by those, for example, who have discovered ancient paths of consciousness-science, and by health-mind-body research.33 This is a massive shift, one that invites scholars to contemplate the possibility of a fundamental transformation in our ways of knowing. In many areas—modern physics, genetic engineering, and cognitive science—even while classical ways of knowing are being challenged, the old materialistic, mechanistic, and sense-bound assumptions about the world are virulent. Sloan asserts that ultimately, a genuine transformation will require not only new theories and categories, but new capacities for insight and understanding, perception and experience.34 This change is also necessitated by the current global political climate, where there is a clear resurgence of religion. In the words of Roman Catholic scholar James Turner, The assumption that faith is a waning force, a theory inherited from Victorian agnostics and once widely shared among European and American academics, is now seen to be patently wrong as a matter of practical fact—indeed dangerously wrong in today’s world. In consequence, scholars who are themselves secular in outlook are taking more interest in religion as a living force. And especially against the background of Islamicist radicalism, ultra-Orthodox Israeli nationalism, and weird Christian sects, like the Branch Davidians, ordinary Christianity no longer seems too musty and atavistic. Christianity is



not chic in many academic circles, but neither can it be consigned to irrelevance.35 Put more severely, the assumption that religion and faith have no place in the academic halls of knowledge can have dangerous consequences. The Jacobsens highlight this as they reflect on the deadly violence of the religiously motivated terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Across the nation, people asked how this could have happened. How could the American government and its intelligence-gathering organizations have so completely misunderstood the world situation? How could the negative consequences of religion been so overlooked? Religion could no longer be ignored—not by politicians or the military, and not by the academy. Although many scholars had dismissed religion as tangential to the quest for geopolitical understanding, that attitude was changed in a day. Like everyone else in the nation, educators had received an unwelcome wakeup call. It was time to start taking religion more seriously, and it was time to learn how to “manage” religion on campus more effectively. This was a matter of national security and political necessity; it had to be done. What might have been a gradual process of re-engaging religion on campus suddenly became a matter of grave urgency.36 With increasing necessity, the academy must find robust ways of understanding the relationship between faith and knowledge. Roman Catholic scholars are eager to weigh in on this area, pointing to the elevation of reason in the Roman Catholic intellectual tradition, while recognizing that in the United States Roman Catholicism has frequently been viewed as anti-intellectual. The idea that faith and reason may function in higher harmony is traced back to Roman Catholic medieval thought.37 In 1990, Pope John Paul II issued Ex Corde Ecclesiae (“from the heart of the Church”), an apostolic constitution on Roman Catholic higher education that focuses its first section on themes related to the task of reconciling faith and knowledge—presenting a vision for Roman Catholic scholars, colleges, and universities. It articulates the ideal that the Roman Catholic university strives to dedicate itself to the cause


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of truth; faith and reason converge in the pursuit of truth. Related to this is the importance of the “integration of knowledge” over and against the fracturing and compartmentalization of knowledge as is common within individual academic disciplines. Ex Corde Ecclesiae asserts that a Catholic university “has to be a ‘living union’ of individual organisms dedicated to the search for truth. . . . It is necessary to work to a higher synthesis of knowledge, in which alone lies the possibility of satisfying that search for truth that is profoundly inscribed in the heart of a human person.”38 This very idea of a higher synthesis of knowledge runs counter to the ways in which much of the academy currently proceeds with its task of knowledge acquisition and transmission. Yet because of the concomitant contemporary attention to alternate ways of knowing and the geopolitical climate, new spaces are opening for attention to such possibilities. Efforts to recover from the split of faith and knowledge are important not only for the academy but also for the church. Sloan argues that the split left the churches unprepared to respond to the increasing challenges to the understanding of nature and the human person that are aggressively asserted by a scientific and technological culture.39 As a result, “in reaction to what are perceived and felt as threats to faith, meaning, value, and life, the resort to dogmatic assertions of faith—often presented as alternative worldviews to scientific naturalism and materialism—has become strong in all the churches, as in all religions worldwide.” 40 In essence, Sloan sees the modern dichotomy of faith and knowledge as contributing to the rise in religious fundamentalism. He suggests that a radical transformation in knowing, in addition to being a contribution to the academy, will lead to a necessary renewal in Christianity. In varying ways, Protestant and Roman Catholic scholars and institutions are emerging in the twenty-first century as posing a significant countercultural challenge to the long-standing split between the nature of knowledge and the nature of faith and religion.41 They present a formidable challenge to the notion that progress meant relegating faith and religion to outside the walls of the academy. “Religious Scholars in the Academy: Anachronism or Leaven?”

If there is room for faith and knowledge to relate within the academy, then this raises a series of questions about individual scholars and their



scholarship.42 Indeed, the Harvard conference in 2000 focused on such questions: what is then the place of religious scholars in the academy? And how do we define “religious scholars”? They began to answer this question by asking another: is there a place in the American academy for “faith-informed scholarship”? In his essay “Beyond Progressive Scientific Humanism,” George Marsden argues for this term “faith-informed” after publishing a book, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, where he frequently used the term “Christian scholarship.” He explains that what he meant by the term was “scholarship by persons who are Christian and who self-consciously relate their faith to what they say or write.”43 He contends that “faith-informed” is more helpful than “Christian” because the latter sets off all sorts of alarms—from being potentially imperialistic to being associated with the religious right, theology, expressions of piety, or witnessing. He has no interest in Christians taking over academia or in advocating for some kind of Christian imperialism. In choosing “faithinformed” he wants to suggest on the one hand that faith has some real impact on scholarship and on the other that the faithful scholar should also be abiding by some broader scholarly standards.44 To explain his perspective on faith-informed scholarship, he writes: My perspectives on reality, and hence on scholarship, are shaped at least in part by my theological commitments. In this respect I see the case as little different from that of the feminist whose scholarship is shaped in part, but not entirely, by feminist commitments. Such commitments, in turn, shape the way one will evaluate and narrate history. An easy example to understand of the sort of thing I have in mind with respect to religious perspectives is this: if one were a Mennonite who believed God forbade the participation in warfare, that would shape the way one would narrate and evaluate America’s participation in World War II. Nonetheless the Mennonite who narrated a war from that perspective could also be an excellent technical historian.45 Marsden challenges the assumption that a scholar must suspend religious beliefs to participate in the scholarly craft well. In reality, multiple commitments shape every scholar’s work. And there is the distinct possibility


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that one’s theological commitments may allow a certain outlook on a topic that is of substantive value to the field, to cross-disciplinary approaches to a topic, to public life.46 Marsden surmises that religious commitments and traditions are likely to influence the evaluative dimensions of scholarship. At least five important questions are important for the scholar to ask: “(1) What do I think important enough to study? (2) What questions do I ask about it? (3) What currently fashionable interpretive strategies are compatible with my religious outlook? (4) How do I, implicitly or explicitly, evaluate various developments as positive, negative, or something in between? (5) How do these evaluations shape my narrative?”47 He also offers three provisos that are essential to understanding the extent of the influence of “religiously based evaluative standards”: First, religious perspective will change some things, but not everything. Second, for religiously based evaluations to be operative there is no requirement that the evaluations be unique. And third, it is critical to bear in mind that there is no one Christian perspective.48 Furthering Marsden’s observations, in her essay in the 2004 volume edited by the Jacobsens, Crystal L. Downing argues for a paradigm of the relationship between faith and learning that reflects our postmodern times and also reflects different religious traditions than the dominant Calvinist model, which she sees as ultimately modernist. She argues for the idea of the “imbrication” of faith and learning, drawing on the way “imbrication” is used by architects to refer to the overlapping shingles on a house; imbrication also describes the scales of a pinecone. This idea opens room for the reality that we all have multiple vocabularies to talk about our faith to different audiences, and that Christian scholars will vary in the vocabulary they each use to relate faith and learning. In her words, “To imbricate faith and scholarship, then, is to acknowledge that one’s Christianity does not always overlap with one’s discipline, that many times scholarship will mention nothing of faith issues.” In other venues, a Christian professor might clearly talk about the overlap of faith with her love for her particular subject. Downing explains that her understanding of imbrication is similar to a concept of “heteroglossia”—divergent tongues—put forward by the Russian (and Orthodox Christian) philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin.



For Bakhtin, every self is imbricated differently, due to each individual’s situatedness not only in time and space but also in relation to others; he calls this the “architectonic” of the self. For Bakhtin, “architectonic privilege” . . . implies that we have a responsibility toward all that is “other” than the self because our individual imbrications will respond to and hence affect the other uniquely—whether the other is a self or a scholarly topic; and vice versa: other selves and subjects affect each one of us differently. . . . Bakhtin advocates the “unfinalizability” of “becoming” as the various imbricated discourses of the self take on new shapes through genuine dialogue with vocabularies of the “other.”49 Whereas the idea of integration implied the attempt to reconcile dissonant discourses, the notion of imbrication ultimately offers a freedom in this unfinalizability. The Jacobsens further flesh this out, proposing that “the soil in which Christian scholarship typically grows is not the soft loam of ideal logic but the gritty ground of our full personhood.”50 They draw on the work of the Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow. When Wuthnow asks whether it is possible to combine a deep personal commitment to the Christian faith with the life of the mind, his answer is that it is indeed possible, and that the best way is by “living the questions” of intelligent faith.51 Faith does not give easy answers about how faith and learning are supposed to relate, but rather open-ended questions about how they might relate. Drawing on the work of Jesuit political philosopher David Hollenbach, the Jacobsens note that the end result of this process will not be a neatly articulated Christian scholarly worldview, but will be what he calls a “‘fragile achievement’—a tentative and provisional understanding of the connections of faith and learning that is rooted in one’s way of life as much as it is an expression of one’s life of the mind.”52 Ultimately, this kind of Christian scholarship allows for the messy complexity that is the mystery of life.53 The Jacobsens further this point as they reflect on how this type of Christian scholarship will actually minimize the supposed differences between the secular academy and the realm of Christian faith, for there will be shared humility in the face of truth and shared mystery at the wonder


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of life.54 They probe the thinking of Ernest Boyer, who argues out of the Anabaptist tradition that the ultimate purpose of Christian scholarship is to celebrate the majesty and wholeness of God’s creation. Therefore, Christian scholarship, according to Boyer, is “at its best when it is humbly and almost invisibly immersed within the larger academy, tincturing the world of scholarship as a whole with a deepened sense of the unity of reality and of our responsibility to serve others, especially those least able to help themselves.”55 Mark Roche discusses Catholicism’s sacramental vision as he shares the distinguishing features of Notre Dame; this vision clearly applies to the work of the scholar. He argues that the Catholic tradition holds fast to the view of God’s presence in the world. “Even among Catholic thinkers who rightly stress that the mystery of God is inexhaustible, there is greater recognition of the presence of God in the world and greater optimism about our ability to make discoveries about God.”56 Divine truth, beauty, and goodness are reflected in this world; the incarnation gives rise to this sacramental vision, and the Trinity includes the idea that the Holy Spirit infuses this world with divinity in ways that extend beyond the singular appearance of Christ. God’s presence in the world then offers a higher justification for the scholar’s work in any field.57 If the historiography gives Orthodox Christians the room to recognize there is space for them at the table, and the questions about the relationship between faith and knowledge challenge any epistemological resistance to understanding the value of the conversation, then this discussion about paradigms of relationship between faith and learning should open the door for Orthodox scholars to recognize some significant value in the trajectory of the contemporary conversation, noting elements that sound surprisingly consonant with the Orthodox theological tradition.


Finally, we turn to the question, is there a place for religious colleges in today’s world, and if so, what is it? Scholars who engage this question often have ample experience with people’s visceral negative reactions to Christian institutions. Samuel Schuman shares one such example in



his 2010 publication Seeing the Light: Religious Colleges in Twenty-FirstCentury America. During his time as chief executive of the University of Minnesota there was a question around the school’s changing its sports division, which would mean joining a division that included religiously affiliated institutions. He remembers a colleague of his questioning, with sarcasm and bitterness, whether they wanted their school to be associated with “a bunch of two-bit bible colleges.” When Schuman later asked the colleague if she had ever been to any of the slighted institutions, she responded that she had never visited any of them, for she did not need to in order to know what kind of places they were.58 Schuman sees too many secular academics maintain the perception that religion, religion on campus, and religious colleges are simple or simpleminded. One of the reasons he launched a broad study of religious colleges was to address the very ignorance and even hostility with which nonreligious academia approaches overtly religious institutions. A related reason is the “spectacular success” that many religious colleges are currently enjoying—a point that is corroborated by Naomi Schaefer Riley in her 2005 book God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America.59 Schuman’s points help highlight that fair engagement of the question itself requires some personal reckoning around prejudices about religious colleges. Marsden takes a helpful bird’s-eye view in his analysis. In his Harvard address, he makes the following provocative statement regarding faithinformed scholarship and its relationship with the world: “Christians are at their best when they live in constructive tension with the dominant culture. They are often at their worst when they are an establishment.”60 So he sees religious colleges as having a viable potential in the world today not as some anachronistic hope at becoming the establishment, but rather as potential leaven for the wider academy. The place for religious colleges is directly related to what Marsden calls “traditionally religious perspectives.” He specifies “traditionally” because in some senses, all scholars are “religious” in the ways they profess commitments to some highest ideals without being affiliated to any religious group. By “traditionally religious” he means persons who profess highest commitment to the God of an organized religious faith and is specifically not referring to the “vague interfaith deism of American civil


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religion.”61 He maintains that in the American academy, broadly speaking, there are enough places where traditionally religious perspectives can foster new critical outlooks. To do this, these traditionally religious perspectives often must buck political, ideological, and economic pressures for a religiously homogenized public life. And so for this reason, Marsden sees such critical outlooks as best developed in religiously affiliated colleges that have maintained some sense of separate identity from the American mainstream. His sum of his sense of the value of the presence of religious colleges is worth citing in full: Because many . . . religious colleges are doing their jobs well, they are becoming increasingly well accepted in American society. If scholars at such schools continue to do their jobs well, and if the schools themselves provide time and resources for public scholarship, there is good potential for the scholarship emanating from such schools to win at least grudging recognition in the academic mainstream. More importantly, such schools will be training students to be thinking critically from religious perspectives in whatever professions they pursue. And so such schools will be helping to provide valuable lay leadership that will leaven not only mainstream academia but also their religious communities and the larger American culture.62 In his vision, religiously affiliated colleges work well when the institution and the scholars within the institution do their jobs well. They provide lay leadership for both their religious communities and mainstream society. To do so, they maintain a certain separate identity that enables them to foster this critical approach, but do it well enough that they are providing public scholarship. Mark Noll picks up on this theme in his essay “The Future of the Religious College,” musing that “the most interesting possibilities for the future lie between the Scylla of sectarian separation and the Charybdis of secular effacement.”63 From his own experience teaching at institutions of higher education that seek to combine the “moral nurture of the old-time colleges with the academic excellence of the twentieth century’s elite liberal arts colleges,” Noll explains that he is



perhaps too much aware of the hurdles blocking such a path (low endowments, high student-faculty ratios, residual distrust of the academy from intensely religious constituencies, learning conceived as ideological armament for culture wars, needlessly precise theological formulas inherited from the fundamentalist era, restraints on community left over from ethnic origins, and so on). Yet if such institutions can walk the tightrope strung between intellectual achievement and Christian conviction, if they can find enough money, and if their leaders can fix on to the classically Christian (as opposed to shortsightedly sectarian) possibilities of their institutions, especially in a cultural moment desperate for personal and intellectual integrity, they may do more for good than their relatively marginal positions would predict.64 Noll acknowledges the practical difficulties that many religious colleges face, the challenge of balancing intellectual achievement and Christian conviction, and the marginalized positions they have within the wider culture. And yet, despite this, he sees the potential for the ability of religious colleges to do disproportionate good today, for this country, through the people they shape. What, then, of the question of academic freedom—the notion that faculty members are protected for total freedom of inquiry, a prime virtue of the university? A stumbling block for many when it comes to the relationship between faith and learning in the academy is this question: Can the faith-informed scholar be simultaneously academically “free” to say what is true within her field—which might include posing challenges, whether real or perceived, to her institution’s faith tradition—and still in good conscience uphold the mission of (and remain employed at) the institution? Does the presence of a higher religious authority (a creed, statement of faith, set of sacred texts, ecclesiastical body) challenge the very notion of academic freedom itself ? Can religious institutions be places that support academic freedom? These questions are alive and well among the scholars of faith and the academy, and will be an increasingly important topic for religious scholars and institutions in the decades to come, especially as issues around the legal boundaries of religious freedom in the United States become central in the public eye. In William C.


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Ringenberg’s recent monograph on this topic, The Christian College and the Meaning of Academic Freedom, George Marsden, in his foreword, gives us a glimpse into the complexity of the conversation. He lists some of the challenges Christian institutions face to their own institutional freedom. He then notes, One reason why such academic freedom issues are so intractable is that “freedom” itself is such an elusive concept. Practically everyone in our culture celebrates the value of freedom. Yet the simple fact is that one person’s freedom is often other person’s enslavement. . . . If we recognize that principle, then we will recognize that we cannot get very far in dealing with our differences if we talk simply about freedom. Rather, we need to recognize that freedom, while unquestionably a value, is not an absolute. It is always subordinate to something higher that people value their freedom for.65 Marsden invites us into a rich place of thought and exploration beyond simplistic assumptions. Once again, this literature points to the many open questions around the relationship between faith and academic freedom rather than deeming the relationship fundamentally flawed. A word here must be said about the unique situation of Roman Catholic colleges and universities, for there are distinct similarities and differences between their theological and ecclesiastical context and that of Orthodox institutions of higher education. In her address at the Harvard conference, Monika Hellwig, an internationally known Georgetown University theologian who served as president and executive director of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities from 1996 until her death in 2005, denoted four factors that make the Roman Catholic context unique: “the role of vowed religious congregations in the colleges; the global extension of the Catholic church and of its network of higher education; the continuing impact of the Second Vatican Council; and the recent legislation of the Holy See.” The last half of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty-first have seen significant exploration of the question of whether or not an institution must be under the direction and authority of the hierarchy in order to be Catholic. Existing patterns varied from country to country, and even within countries such as the United



States. Some schools began as episcopal initiatives, while others began without formal relationship to the hierarchy, although both clergy and laity broadly accepted them as Catholic. A major difference between the Roman Catholic schools and their Protestant counterparts has been the relationship between the Roman Catholic institutions and religious congregations of persons committed to their congregation for life. Among the Roman Catholic schools in America, each school has generally had its own unique character based on its relationship with a religious congregation—for example, Boston College with the Jesuits, Providence College with the Dominicans, St. John’s College with the Franciscans. The relationship to the institutional church was then taken for granted, although little or no control was exercised by the hierarchy in practice.66 Historically, this guaranteed a supply of trained people formed in the spirit and tradition of each institution; today, those numbers of committed religious persons are dwindling, and significant influences are now forcing Roman Catholic colleges and universities to rethink their missions—one factor, for example, is the rapid professionalization of college teaching, administration, and financing, and the installation of lay boards to deal with such factors. This move meant schools often had to separate into two corporations, the college and the unit of the sponsoring religious congregation, with legal responsibility for the college vested in its largely lay board. Hellwig notes, “As the higher education enterprise had become so expensive, this was necessary if only to shield the assets of the religious congregation, which in many cases had a much smaller budget and endowment than the college.”67 Rome, however, perceived this change as a challenge to its authority and control regarding the higher education enterprise, church property, and lack of canonically guaranteed Roman control of the laity on the boards. Yet the Second Vatican Council, 1962–65, has had the lasting effect of a rising role of the laity for the work of the church in the world. A question emerged: must a Roman Catholic institution be run directly or indirectly by the hierarchy? It was in part to respond to this question that Ex Corde Ecclesiae was promulgated in 1990. The first, aforementioned section of the document offered the general philosophy of higher education based extensively on the work of the International Federation of


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Catholic Universities; the second section required bishops’ conferences around the world to draft application documents for higher education institutions in their own regions. There were substantial difficulties with this for the Catholic colleges and universities in this country, which are integrated into a larger system in terms of charters, accreditation, curricula, and various associations of higher education and professors’ degree and licensing requirements, so it took until May 2000 to reach a final approved document. It represented a tightening of hierarchic controls over Roman Catholic colleges, and yet with ambiguity as to how this control should be exercised in each situation.68 Roman Catholic scholars and institutions have responded variously to this tightening control, with some colleges quietly withdrawing from calling themselves Catholic and others welcoming the tighter relationship with the hierarchy. Hellwig notes, “The largest group of colleges have both presidents and faculties that are troubled about the possible implications and repercussions of the many canonical requirements without being inclined to distance themselves from the Catholic church.”69 This is true, she asserts, for the simple reasons that Catholicism to them is more than an institutional structure, but is rather a faith, a way of worship, and an intellectual, cultural, and aesthetic heritage to which they are deeply committed. There are now many associations and initiatives that support and enhance this vision.70 As we will see below, Orthodox Christians may easily relate to the skepticism regarding the place of religious colleges in today’s world—the notion, even among people of faith, that religious colleges are simple or simpleminded; the questions around negotiating intellectual rigor and Christian conviction; concerns over ecclesiastical control versus academic freedom. And yet simultaneously, there are some robust and well-thoughtout reasons for religious colleges in the United States today that the Orthodox can rigorously explore: the idea that they are the best places for traditionally religious perspectives to foster new critical outlooks for church and society; the importance of training grounded lay leadership for both religious communities and society; and perhaps most persuasively, the idea that religious colleges are the places where a faith tradition continually works out—by its scholars in community—how it will avoid being overrun by secularism while refusing to retreat to sectarianism.




The preceding sections should highlight that the questions this volume raises—the relationship between Orthodox Christianity and higher education, why the Orthodox have been silent in the conversation, and what the Orthodox might have to say in this realm—are important questions to ask. In 2002 Hellenic College, the only accredited Orthodox Christian college in the Western hemisphere, became one of eighty-eight churchrelated liberal arts colleges to receive a grant from the Lilly Endowment for the “theological exploration of vocation.” The Endowment asked schools to begin or enhance programs that would help students relate faith commitments with career choices, consider ministry as a potential career, and enhance the capacity of faculty to teach and mentor students around vocation.71 The Lilly Endowment has long been committed to exploring the salience of the interaction between religion and higher education; more broadly, it believes that healthy religious communities are essential for fostering a humane society. A natural and essential by-product of the grant’s focus on students was the need to engage the college itself in a conversation around the religious roots of its institutional mission. As discussions began at Hellenic College, it was a struggle to find Orthodox Christian sources that directly address Orthodox views on faith, learning, and the academy. In conjunction with the Orthodox Theological Society in America, Hellenic began hosting consultations on the topic of Orthodoxy and higher education, inviting Orthodox scholars and theologians to explore the historical reasons for the lack of attention to this topic and to offer fresh insights in light of the Orthodox theological tradition. This volume emerged from these essays. As a contribution to the ongoing conversations about religion and higher education, faith and learning in the United States, the essays in this volume offer readers insights into these topics from Orthodox Christian perspectives. With the exception of the afterword, which is a clear and welcome voice from a Protestant scholar, Andrea Sterk—a historian of late antiquity, ancient Christianity, and Byzantine civilization who has also published on the intersection of faith and learning—all of the essays


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are written by Orthodox academics. These Orthodox teachers and researchers hail from a diverse set of institutional and disciplinary backgrounds; they are scholars of religion and of the humanities, sociologists, political scientists, and theologians from a wide range of theological schools, public universities, secular liberal arts colleges, and religiously affiliated colleges and universities. The volume is structured into two sections. The first section sheds light on the historical experiences and theological traditions that inform and explain Orthodox approaches to the topic of religion and higher education. The second section offers essays that both problematize and reflect on Orthodox thought and practice in the context of colleges and universities today. Included are philosophical questions about the relevance and application of Orthodox ideas in the religious and secular academy, as well as cross-disciplinary treatments of Orthodoxy as identity marker, pedagogical frame, and teaching and research subject. The essays illumine that there are good historical reasons why Orthodox Christians in the United States have not, to date, given significant attention to the questions of faith and higher education. In the opening essay of the volume, John McGuckin, professor of early church history at Union Theological Seminary, explains the chief historical reason: the simple fact that the history of persecution within traditionally Orthodox regions has crippled the development of Orthodox higher education. He explains, “The cultural devastation of five centuries over all the Orthodox world apart from Russia, yet allied to the savage breaking of Russia throughout almost all the twentieth century, is not something one can get over quickly.” During the centuries that Western Christendom was developing its systems of higher learning, Ottoman Turks ruled most Orthodox lands. McGuckin notes that it was not solely foreign rule that prohibited growth of universities, but the consequent absence of patrons to support every aspect of a school’s flourishing: building libraries, affording faculty salaries, refining standards, and soliciting a new generation of experts. Without the possibility of patronage that comes from the simple reality of material wealth—Mark Noll referred to this as essential for religious colleges even today—the Orthodox simply could not fund universities. In the case of Russia, we might expect Orthodoxy to have held substantial influence within its higher education system before the Bolshevik



revolution. Vera Shevzov, professor of religion at Smith College, illumines this aspect of Orthodox history. The modern university in Russia emerged in the eighteenth century as a secular institution and was staffed largely by European scholars. As a result, the Russian Orthodox Church, in order to preserve the integrity of Orthodox theology, consigned its teaching to Moscow’s Slavic-Greek Latin Academy, and later to its four theological academies. Consequently, within the secular academic world in Russia, the study of Orthodoxy, and theology in particular, remained largely marginalized. Subsequent attempts to integrate its study into the university curriculum in the nineteenth century were often motivated by the state’s political concerns to curb unrest and growing antiecclesiastical sentiments, which in the eyes of many Orthodox thinkers compromised Orthodoxy as a subject of study. As a result, the secular origin of the Russian university, Orthodoxy’s function as a state religion, and the intellectual challenges of modernity “all contributed to Orthodoxy’s tenuous position as an academic discipline within Russia’s universities.” In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many of Russia’s trained academic thinkers began to give considerable attention to the question of the relationship between Orthodoxy and the university. Shevzov notes it was “a moment when social and political pressures finally pushed the Orthodox Church to embark on an in-depth examination of all facets of its institutional life with hopes of major reform.” Theological journals routinely considered the theoretical and philosophical questions associated with the topic—religion and science, faith and knowledge, Christianity and modernity, “secular scholarship” and religious literacy. In preparation for the All-Russia Council of 1917–18, the issue was raised in preconciliar church meetings in 1906 as part of a broader discussion of Russia’s theological academies. Ultimately, the Bolshevik Revolution cut short the often heated debates over these issues, and it is only in postSoviet Russia that these nineteenth- and twentieth-century debates have enjoyed renewed scholarly attention. A related factor contributing to the dearth of contemporary Orthodox engagement of the faith-learning question is a thread of antiintellectualism found in Orthodox thought. McGuckin notes that with regard to the direction religious and theological studies have taken, the movement to set apart theology as a venerable subject, fit only for the ascetic and experienced, has been a historical shackle. In some patristic


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sources one finds the notion that theology is only for a very few. John Behr, professor of patristics at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, notes that Tertullian’s second-century query—“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”—is still an attitude encountered in present-day Orthodoxy regarding the relationship between faith and learning. And yet Behr challenges this notion by arguing that this attitude was not a straightforward formulation of the relationship between faith and learning in the second century. He addresses the significant difference between those who adopt this posture today and the ancient figures. Tertullian, and others like him, knew and were well trained in the rhetorical culture of their day; while they presented a rhetorical stance against it, they continued to use it. They were highly educated intellectuals and knew intimately the philosophical and rhetorical culture in which they lived. Tertullian’s statement was a hyperbolic statement to make a point, Behr asserts, but should not be taken straightforwardly. Andrew Louth, professor emeritus of patristic and Byzantine studies, University of Durham, makes a similar point in his essay “Orthodox Monasticism and Higher Education.” He challenges a traditional account of opposition between monasticism and higher learning, or between Greek learning and the spirit of the gospel, seeing the positions as a largely rhetorical construction, a construction that did not actually reflect reality. Rather, the reality that lies behind the rhetorical positions was much more complex, and the elements described as opposites coexisted in symbiotic relationship. If there are vestiges of anti-intellectualism in Orthodoxy today that utilize these ancient sources as rationale, Behr and Louth argue that this ignores the wider context in which they were produced. Orthodox Christians in the United States have had to overcome other internal reasons for the lack of significant Orthodox presence in American higher education. Kyriacos Markides, a sociologist from the University of Maine, notes that Orthodox Christians immigrated to the United States late in the formation of the country and remained relatively small in number; consequently, they were not part of the shaping of the country’s basic institutional structures. Most often they also held deep ties to their ethnic identity, which made collaboration among Orthodox Christians a challenge. What is the logical amount of time it takes, in the words of



McGuckin, for “Russians, Greeks, Romanians, and others [to] care more for their commonality as Orthodox than for their differentiation by nationalisms”? In addition to the brute reality of ethnic and language differences, each Orthodox nationality would tell its own story of the extent to which assimilation became a key objective of its life in America. For many Greek immigrants, for example, it was a sign of achievement for their children to attend the best universities in the country. Moreover, unlike Roman Catholics, as a whole they did not face intense religious discrimination by the Protestant establishment, and therefore did not have the same kind of incentive to start a system of parallel schooling. According to McGuckin, Orthodox immigrants also lacked the ability to “lean on the resources of an international array of skilled teaching orders, of religious men and women who offered their skilled services to the church at nominal cost.” Several aspects of Orthodox Church leadership have also affected the current state of affairs for higher education. Markides reminds us: Orthodoxy does not have a universally recognized leader, like the pope or the Dalai Lama of Tibet, who can speak on behalf of the faith. A possible unifying leader, like the patriarch of Constantinople, the “First among Equals,” regardless of how charismatic he might be, is virtually a “prisoner” of the Turkish state. He remains at a disadvantage to offer a dynamic form of leadership for all Orthodox that could impact Orthodoxy’s presence in the world and, by extension, in American universities.  Candace Hetzner, associate dean for academic affairs at Boston College, aptly connects how most Orthodox Church hierarchs in the United States have little personal experience with church-related or faith-based higher education themselves, and so have offered little leadership or direction concerning the creation of Orthodox colleges here in the United States. Interestingly in this regard, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, predominantly lay Orthodox theologians also often found that the church empathized little with their creative efforts to engage the intellectual and philosophical challenges that modernity posed for the academic study of Orthodoxy in the modern world.


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The two most prominent Orthodox Christian seminaries in the United States—Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York—were not founded until 1937 and 1938, respectively, each with the chief aim of training future Orthodox clergy. Both had initiatives in undergraduate education, but neither with anywhere near the kind of deliberate educational philosophy that their Protestant and Roman Catholic counterparts drew on for their efforts. From the beginning, St. Vladimir’s was designed to prepare undergraduate-aged men for the priesthood. Originally located in New York City, it had a five-year joint program leading to a BA from Colombia (or, later, other undergraduate programs in the area) and a diploma from St. Vladimir’s. In the 1960s, St. Vladimir’s became a graduate-level school of theology, at which point various pressures led to a decreased emphasis on and the eventual curtailment of its undergraduate component in the late 1980s.72 Ultimately the involvement of St. Vladimir’s in undergraduate education might best be described, in the words of historian and former dean John Erickson, as “peripheral and accidental.”73 Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology was more deliberate about its interest in undergraduate education. In a 2009 conference paper, “Hellenic College: The Enduring Vision,” Thomas Lelon, former president of the school (now vice-chairman of its board of trustees), notes that in the opening ceremonies of Holy Cross in 1937, the Greek ambassador to the United States, Demetrios Sicilianos, stated, “Our good Archbishop Athenagoras and I envision that this School will some day in the future develop into a university for Greek Americans.”74 It took thirty years and a generational transformation for this to happen, years that both helped and hurt the idea of such an institution. On the one hand, by the mid-1960s several Greek Orthodox lay patrons moved forward the establishment of Hellenic College (1968) under the active leadership of a visionary Greek Orthodox primate of the time, Archbishop Iakovos. On the other hand, Greek Americans had by this point succeeded in entering mainstream higher education, and many questioned the need to invest in a separate institution of higher learning. Since its inception, the college has struggled with a “roller coaster experience” of expansion and contraction for a related host of reasons, none of which would surprise scholars



of small religiously affiliated intuitions: a contested relationship between the college and church hierarchy; the challenge of garnering substantial ongoing philanthropic support; the primary role of the institution as a seminary for training future clergy and the concomitant question around differing missions of the college and graduate school, particularly as they relate to student formation; and the conflict created between an emphasis on preservation of ethnic traditions and language, on the one hand, and a vision rooted in Orthodoxy’s spiritual and theological heritage on the other.75 It has not helped that Orthodox Christians were bereft of a tradition of faith-related higher learning for the historical reasons noted above; there has been little by way of inherited vision for such an institution. More broadly, many of the scholars in the volume bemoan the relative marginalization of Orthodoxy in American higher education today. In a few isolated institutions, of course, Orthodoxy has managed to have a presence and voice, but these are far from the norm.76 Alexander Lingas in his essay on the place of Orthodox liturgical music in the Western academy speaks to this marginality, noting the woefully small number of scholars with permanent posts in Western European or North American universities currently publishing historical or ethnographic research on Orthodox liturgical music. He provides a remarkable account of the musical traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy throughout history, chronicling the interface with historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and the applied musical arts of composition and performance. Lingas’s summary confirms the marginality of Orthodoxy’s musical traditions within the academic sphere. Elizabeth Prodromou, visiting associate professor of conflict resolution at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, notes that in her field of political science, Orthodoxy has fared worse than if it had been simply left out of the picture: examination of Orthodoxy worldwide had been scripted by a secularization-modernization agenda that has dominated the field of political science and international relations until very recently. She argues that “the writing of Orthodoxy” in political science scholarship has been “built on intellectual models and ideological perspectives and policy preoccupations that utilized and perpetuated outmoded and/or incomplete histories.” But the Orthodox are not only


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victims in this situation: Orthodox scholars, too, often themselves concede to the logistics of secularism and assume that the study of religion, in general, and Orthodoxy, more specifically, belongs to the silo of the discipline of theology. Prodromou problematizes both notions and shows the epistemological space that is now slowly opening to renarrate Orthodoxy, stating that possibilities for broadening narratives must include interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration between political scientists, theologians, historians, and scholars of religion. A great irony in the overall discussion is that while discussions about faith and learning among the Orthodox have only begun in the United States, as we invited essays for this volume, a leading perspective emerged from an unforeseen place: Lebanon. Georges N. Nahas, vice president of the University of Balamand, offers the remarkable account of starting an Orthodox university in a small country where the past sixty years have seen frequent internal factions and war. Launched in 1988 amidst significant political, financial, and security risks, the University of Balamand focuses on dialogue and education through pursuing academic excellence, community engagement, and human development. With a student body today of 3,800 students, the university is designed to be an Orthodox institution where students of a wide variety of confessional backgrounds feel at home, and with the strong position that Lebanon should be unified and free for all. Ultimately, the essays in this volume attest to the fact that, while the Orthodox have substantial historical reasons for not contributing substantial faith-learning scholarship and institutions here in North America, this does not indicate that Orthodox Christians cannot or will not engage the questions. In fact, the very enthusiasm with which all these scholars responded to either a conference call for papers or a personal invitation to contribute an essay indicates a certain ripeness for the discussion. Orthodox Christians did not immigrate to the United States and immediately found colleges because there was no real tradition of them having done so in their lands of origin in the centuries prior. For related reasons, American Orthodox scholars have not engaged the broader national discussion on the relationship between faith and learning in the academy. The conversation has not historically happened; that does not mean it should not.




Several themes naturally emerge among these essays that have clear touch points to the broader literature reviewed above. This conversation is new enough that it would be hubris to claim them as defining markers of an Orthodox approach to higher education; rather, these serve simply as guideposts that help give some shape to the Orthodox contributions in this volume. Traditionally Religious Sources and the Academic Enterprise

For those familiar with the Orthodox theological tradition, this first theme should come as no surprise: Orthodox Christian academics naturally turn to traditionally religious sources—scripture, patristics, and liturgical texts—for the academic enterprise. They deeply trust that these sources have a profound relevance, worth revisiting over and over. This is the very pattern of Orthodox theological inquiry, and it will stretch to be a defining factor in Orthodox thought more broadly. We find this perhaps best demonstrated by an interesting network of relationships that surfaces in four of the essays in this volume. McGuckin, Behr, Louth, and Aristotle Papanikolaou each ruminate on the work of two fourth-century patristic writers, Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian (also known as Gregory of Nazianzus). We easily see why they would consult these fourth-century authors as sources: Basil and Gregory both wrote texts that dealt with the relationship between secular learning and Christian faith. They also wrote letters to each other that wrestle with such topics as the relationship between the active and contemplative life, the manner of learning, and the role of community in the process. Together they composed an anthology of the writings of Origen as a tribute to a great theologian and educator before them.77 Our essayists turn to these thinkers for insight not only into the history of the relationship of faith and learning, but also for contemporary inspiration. They highlight that Basil and Gregory differ on their perspectives on the topic at hand, and our essayists themselves differ slightly in their interpretations. They consult ancient teachers who are themselves


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consulting an ancient teacher. The very habit of returning to Basil and Gregory, by four different authors at different institutions, shows an Orthodox manner of approach—examining traditionally religious sources with contemporary academic questions.78 It is a pattern very much ingrained in the way of knowing for the Orthodox.79 This way of knowing is not, generally speaking, a dry academic endeavor, for the thinkers whom the Orthodox consult are often embedded in the Orthodox liturgical tradition, where hymns are rhetorically structured to address believers in the present.80 The celebration and veneration of Saints Basil and Gregory is part of the Orthodox liturgical cycle. So by engaging these ancients not only for the task of history writing but for the goal of understanding, Orthodox Christian scholars are having living and often critical conversations with them—with an openness to both spiritual and intellectual formation.81 Of course while Orthodox Christians can be stereotyped as valuing tradition over and above scripture, most Orthodox theologians today will say that is an unhelpful dichotomy, and that the best way to understand tradition is to see it as scripture rightly interpreted.82 And so we find Orthodox biblical scholars making the unabashed claim, as did some modern Orthodox biblical scholars in prerevolutionary Russia, that scripture can and must be a source for the Christian scholar. Moreover, the Orthodox more or less avoided the confines of the historical-critical approach to the Bible that dominated much of Protestant thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and became a destabilizing force in the relationship of faith and higher education in US history. As Hetzner aptly articulates in her essay, “Having, by and large, missed the Enlightenment and, therefore, the opportunity to oppose it, the Orthodox Church has less historical overcoming to do.” Readers will not find the Orthodox authors in this volume engaged in defending themselves on how or why their reading of scripture is Orthodox. Their intent is not to present emphatically distinct ways of seeing scripture from an Orthodox perspective. Rather, the idea is to provide perspectives for this contemporary conversation that are the thoughtful offerings of Orthodox biblical scholars, who will each in varied ways bring their Orthodox context to their analysis. In his essay, Michael Legaspi, associate professor in classics and ancient Mediterranean studies at Pennsylvania State, argues that the theme of wisdom in the Old Testament offers Christian scholars rich insights



for their work in teaching, research, and scholarship in the university. George Parsenios, associate professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary, focuses on the way the apostle Paul employs “secular” learning and Jewish theological learning in his task as an apostle. Bruce Beck, assistant professor of New Testament at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, traces an early pedagogical paradigm of imitation from Jesus to the apostle Paul to John Chrysostom, in order to reflect on the phenomenon of embodied knowledge and suggest applications for contemporary educators. Beck’s article shows how Orthodox scholars commonly follow a strand of thought from scripture to later sources—that which becomes tradition as an embraced interpretation of scripture. We find that this pattern of utilizing traditionally Orthodox religious sources is not relegated solely to textual sources. Roy Robson, professor of history at Penn State Abington, focuses his essay on a liturgical moment that is celebrated on the evening of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ each year—a moment that encompasses fragrance, light, movement, text, image, music, and local tradition—as a source for academic inspiration. He uses the language of Mikhail Bakhtin to describe the liturgical moment as polyphonic, multiperspectival, and ultimately transfiguring. As such, Robson argues, it offers important guidance for education, and he describes how he specifically used this polyphonic model in writing a world religions textbook for college students. Candace Hetzner presents some practical implications of this pattern of Orthodox relationship with traditional sources. Students today often arrive on college campuses alienated from most of the key institutions of our society—government, business, church. They yearn for direction, and yet have no place to turn. An Orthodox college culture, Hetzner argues, would have among its objectives an appreciation of genuine authority, that is, the willingness to learn from those who possess greater knowledge and insight, and a valuing of traditions and institutions of collective wisdom through time. For Orthodox institutions, a valuing of collective wisdom through time would emanate from the very patterns for Orthodox intellectual life. A critical component of this habit of treasuring wisdom must not be left out: for Orthodox Christian academics, the continual consulting of traditionally religious sources is itself a scholarly, academic affair. Such


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engagement requires reading texts with the best critical acumen. Both Behr and Louth “deconstruct” the face-value reading of rhetorical hostility between faith and learning; instead of narrowly condemning the very notion of deconstruction as antithetical to Christianity, they use the approach to illumine a deeper truth within the tradition. Gayle Woloschak, professor of radiation oncology at Northwestern University, in her essay on being Orthodox and being a scientist, notes the Orthodox tendency to succumb to ideologies that are often idolatries—namely worshiping “being ancient” over being truthful. Indeed, the gift of the Orthodox academic to the wider church is the very ability to approach the traditionally religious sources both faithfully and critically, to help the church discern what is of enduring value. Ultimately, this habit of revisiting traditional sources is, at its best for the Orthodox, an act of living the questions. “Between the Scylla of Sectarian Separation and the Charybdis of Secular Effacement”

A second recurrent theme in the essays is the notion that it is the responsibility of the Orthodox academic to lead the way in charting a middle course between—to borrow Noll’s terms—sectarian separation and secular effacement. Several authors name some of the key temptations for the Orthodox in this regard, and turn to the tradition for guidance. George Parsenios acknowledges the options that exist for the Orthodox in the West who find themselves in an essentially foreign intellectual, political, and social environment: one option is to resist any Western influence at all; the other is to completely capitulate. He looks to the apostle Paul as a model of one who avoids polar extremes as he seamlessly uses Greek and Roman rhetorical tools and techniques in a way that allows him to further the mission of the gospel. This, Parsenios asserts, is our invitation to avoid easy oppositions between the world and the church in the realm of higher learning. Indeed, we find the recurrent notion among the authors that Orthodox involvement in higher education provides important fodder for Orthodox churches to resist retreating to sectarian separation. Georges Nahas points to the tragic habit among some Orthodox of reducing



church witness by limiting it to maintaining a liturgical life within the context of Orthodox Church services. He maintains that though the life of the Orthodox is certainly and deeply liturgical, it is very outward looking in its theological dimensions; the church is responsible for the world, and Nahas believes this responsibility is a divine duty. Through higher education, the church as “annunciator” must deliver the message of life and hope, being proactively involved in the problems of our age and participating in possible solutions. Michael Plekon, an Orthodox priest who has served on the faculty at Baruch College at City University of New York for over three decades, offers his own reflections on how he sees his “day job” as a professor at a diverse public institution as ministry itself— not as a way of proselytizing, but as a way of inviting students to think more deeply and respectfully about religions and people of religious faith. He bases this spirit of openness on the work of the “Paris School” of émigré Russian Orthodox theologians associated with St. Sergius Institute in Paris. He cites the work of Orthodox theologian Nicholas Afanasiev (1893–1966), who argues against the notion that the church’s mission in the world is to preserve its sanctity in order to bring it to the time of fulfillment. This would presuppose that there is one road from the world into the church, but no road from the church into the world—a notion that would be correct only if the church could leave the world. But the church does not lead her members out of the world or leave her members in the world alone. Rather she faces the world, abides in and builds the world until “the fullness of time.” An openness to culture, a genuine engagement with learning and art, politics and society, and a desire to serve those in need, all are seen as a renewing of Christian discipleship. Papanikolaou argues that the vocation of Orthodox scholars is to challenge the anti-intellectualism of some of contemporary Orthodoxy, exemplified in the “silly dualism” between mysticism and reason promoted by some Orthodox theologians. Moreover, he argues that it is the responsibility of Orthodox scholars to convince other academics that we will not make fundamentalism go away by marginalizing religion “but by encouraging more critical discussion and debate about religious ideas, and by increasing theological literacy.” Hetzner points out that the church benefits from the challenges posed by intellectual dialogue on the college campus. These challenges give the church an opportunity to look at itself


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critically, providing an avenue to reflect on a changing world and what changes the institution is being called to. The authors are also inclined to engage pressing contemporary issues for our society at large. They call attention to stereotypical extremes and offer alternatives. Echoing some of the modern Orthodox thinkers discussed in Shevzov’s essay, Gayle Woloschak focuses on the interface between science and religion, highlighting the prevalence today of extreme views: the scientist who believes that a war must be waged on religion, which represents humanity’s “irrational religious” past; the Christian who believes all science is bereft of any spiritual dimension, and all scientific theories are necessarily godless. Woloschak argues that such extremes— full of ideologies more stereotypical than accurate—leave us without the critical tools needed to engage everyday science-religion issues that need our attention: genetically modified crops, global climate change, in-vitro fertilization. She sees interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration across fields as essential not only for pastoral care within churches, but also for science and the academy. Prodromou, who in her own professional career has effectively lived in this important “between” space by serving on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, illustrates that both sectarian separation and secular effacement would ultimately be a tragedy when Orthodoxy is considered in the fields of political science and international relations. She shares hope and vision for the future, noting that “the end of the Cold War has enabled the emergence of a globalized, transnational community of Orthodox Christian scholars conducting research in political science, offering the possibilities for comparative analyses of the internal pluralism of global Orthodox Christianity.” Her essay illumines her claim that Orthodox Christianity in American higher education can contribute to “making sense of and respecting the distinctions and connections between one’s religious commitments and one’s scholarship.” Papanikolaou illustrates how he brings the concern for religion on the world scene into the classroom. His point of departure is student perception in a required theology course he teaches at the Roman Catholic Fordham University. To address student resistance to the theology requirement itself—out of a feeling that religion is a matter of private, subjective opinion—Papanikolaou structures the first part of the course as a



sociological, historical, and philosophical exploration of secularization in the United States before turning to examine fundamentalism as a prominent face of modern religion. His goal is to make students more critically aware of the context within which they construct their own ideas about religion and theology, in order to open space for them to think otherwise about these fields. There is, across these essays, a congruity of vision regarding the Orthodox academic vocation to chart a middle course for both the church and academy—this springs from the historical experience of the church and its theological vision of being outward looking for the life of the world. Yes, Mystery and Unknown, but Also Word and Narrative

Related to this careful balance between sectarian separation and secular effacement is the Orthodox stance towards mystery and the unknown. Indeed it is this stance that the Jacobsens directly refer to in their brief suggestion that the Orthodox have something to offer the conversation: “The Eastern Orthodox tradition has a long history of apophatic theology— an approach that stresses the fact that the most important truths about God cannot be put into words.”83 We do find the authors of these essays discussing distinctive ways apophatic theology can positively impact the academic enterprise. Hetzner argues that Orthodoxy offers important guidance for students by helping to resolve relativist-absolutist tensions because Orthodoxy is clear about what we may know with certainty and what remains unknown—apophatic or ineffable. This emphasis marks a significant departure from much Christian absolutism. With it, a college culture would have as one of its foundational objectives “believing that human beings can know many things but not everything.” This theological point provides a corrective to some contemporary intellectual currents. Markides advocates that apophaticism, “the hallmark of Orthodoxy,” is an important offering to help loosen the bonds of historical materialism and reductionism. For Orthodox academics, it can also become the spirit in which they pursue scholarship and teaching. Belief in the apophatic nature of God requires the cultivation of humility, with the constant reminder of the limits of human knowledge. Scott Cairns, the poet and professor of English at the University of Missouri,


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describes how this unknowability transfers directly to his craft, especially as he teaches it to students: “The pursuit of art becomes utterly worthless when it is reduced to being the expression of what we know, or of what we think we know.” Rather, poems that may be called Orthodox reflect a sacramental or mystical poetics; they insist on the reader’s participation in making something of them, and it is in that space of the unknown— with the shared experience of attention to the words—that meaning is made. For Cairns, apophaticism provides the very manner in which understanding is pursued. Cairns’s joint emphasis on both the space of the unknown and the attention to words is critical, because while Orthodox apophatic theology is often seen as a distinctive marker of the tradition, to emphasize it to an exclusion of the place of attention to word and narrative would do injustice. John Behr illumines the power that the early church fathers gave to words—in Greek logoi, or logos in the singular—and specifically as related to the teaching-learning relationship: It is logos that differentiates us from brute animals; it is by logos that we become human (and as Saint Irenaeus [c. 130–c. 202] reminds us, we must first become human before we can be deified); it is logos that we have in common with God; it is through logoi that we communicate with each other; it is with his words that a teacher teaches and a spiritual guide guides, words that are demonstrated to be trustworthy by the manner of life of the speaker—yet words that also persuade us of his trustworthiness. Behr summarizes that given this importance, our greatest task as human beings is to study the art of words, and his essay addresses how and why this is so according to patristic writers, given that Christianity is essentially a revealed religion. McGuckin argues for the centrality of narrative for understanding the history of education in the Orthodox tradition. Christ’s saving kerygma is taught chiefly in the medium of story; the church is a coming together to hear the story; theology is narrative expression. The tradition is clear that the church’s duty is to be attentive to the story of the Word.



Louth, in his discussion of Orthodox monasticism and higher education, notes the difference between the pursuit of monasticism, or Christian discipleship, and the pursuit of learning. The goal of the first is attentiveness to the Word of God. For the pursuit of learning, Louth notes that the fathers believed that there are ways in which the created order speaks to us of God. He gives the example of Maximos the Confessor, who, in his Ambigua, finds a close parallel between the Word manifest to us in the words of scripture and the Word manifest to us in the words, the λόγοι, of creation. Louth focuses on the contemplative life as a shared root of both monasticism and higher education, and how it is in danger of being lost in higher education: “Teaching is no longer concerned with developing a capacity in students for seeing things as they are, but with providing them with skills that will make them attractive in the marketplace.” Higher education, Louth argues, has a certain calling to develop in faculty and students habits of attention and contemplation. Theological emphases on both the importance of the word and unknowability are foundational to the Orthodox academic enterprise. They require attentiveness, the goal of which is contemplative wisdom, the ultimate end of all knowledge. This wisdom is achieved only by detachment from the self and from any attempt to exploit what it is we are seeking to understand. To this end, humility is not a nice attribute to which a scholar should strive, but rather an essential precondition, a foundational requirement. Education as Holistic, on Theoretical, Personal, and Ecclesial Levels

This emphasis on wisdom and humility leads us to a fourth and final theme. The essays in this volume repeatedly emphasize that education in the Orthodox tradition naturally strives to be holistic on both theoretical and personal levels. For Legaspi, to return to biblical understanding of wisdom is to fight for what is steadfastly holistic. Wisdom holds together life in its metaphysical, cosmic, social, and personal aspects. Scholars oriented towards wisdom will refuse to compartmentalize forms of inquiry. Within the various disciplines of higher education, wisdom resists fragmentation and will manifest itself in the “disciplined search for meaningful connection.”


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Shevzov shows how the idea of unity formed the basis of the thinking of many of Russia’s academic Orthodox thinkers at the turn of the twentieth century when they defended theology’s place in the university curriculum. Higher education should embrace “the totality of knowledge” and strive for an “integral consciousness” over and against the fragmented knowledge demanded by the systematic classification and specialization within the fields of contemporary science. Striving for this integration was a sacred task from an Orthodox anthropological standpoint, and as a result no form of knowledge should be excluded. From this perspective, these thinkers argued that a university curriculum without offerings in theology remained incomplete. Theology ultimately offered a unifying link that harmonized the otherwise fragmented realms of knowledge. Kyriacos Markides, following his teacher Pitirim Sorokin, Russian émigré and founder of the sociology department at Harvard, also advocates for an “integralist truth” which aims to cultivate three strands of knowledge—the senses, the mind, and intuition—in order to attain a more balanced, holistic, and integral vision of reality. Behr illustrates that in the early church, education was both an intellectual affair and concerned with spiritual formation. “It would have been inconceivable to separate these two aspects of paideia. It was not enough to be able to speak about a subject: the student had to strive, Gregory [the Theologian] recalled, to attain ‘the practical accomplishment of the thing expressed.’” Not surprisingly, we find among the essays a deep concern for the holistic formation of students in the American academy today. As Hetzner maintains, speaking of the digital revolution which is the waters all students swim in, “In this environment, to speak of souls is almost quaint, but an Orthodox college must do so.” In Papanikolaou’s essay we find his concern for helping students understand that being “religious” has to do with formation of the person to be in a certain way—to transform one’s mode of being in the world. Christian practices such as fasting, therefore, are seen as ways of forming the whole person. “Christianity is a being that is realized in and through particular practices that are time tested in the Christian ascetical tradition.” This vision of the holistic encompasses the very hope for the union among Christians that Radu Bordeianu argues for in his essay, “Ecumen-



ism in the Classroom.” Following the Romanian Orthodox theologian Dumitru Staniloae (1903–93), Bordeianu asserts that ecumenism is an intrinsic aspect of Orthodox teaching and that Christians must strive to repair brokenness and restore unity, including the visible unity of the churches. He addresses how teaching, research, and the service endeavors of academic life can be ecumenical. His own students are assigned extensive research to discover differences among various Christian denominations, and may form opinions about the degree of unity in diversity that Christianity can achieve today. Moreover, he invites them to engage in some type of service as a part of the course requirement and reflect theologically upon their experience. This challenges students to resist making a common mistake of ecumenism: splitting the agenda in two opposite directions, church unity and work for justice. Through their own research and service, Orthodox professors of theology or religious studies have the opportunity to contribute to the cause of Christian unity. Striving for this unity and holism is ultimately an act of wisdom. And Christian wisdom, asserts Legaspi, is to see the unity of all things, “not in nakedly intellectual terms, as something fully transparent to human reason, but rather as embodied and actualized in the One who unites humanity and divinity, strength and humility, holiness and power.” Beck helps us further understand, in ruminating on Christ as teacher in Matthew, how Christ, as the ultimate source of our faith, calls disciples not to knowledge as the word is typically used, but to a way of learning that continually imitates him and leads to acts of mercy towards others. This way of learning leads to the phenomenon of embodied knowledge that we find in the person of Christ. Jesus integrates learning with doing, content with mentorship, high standards with mercy. These themes cannot be definitively called “the Orthodox approach to faith and learning” because, once again, this is just the beginning of an exploration of this topic. But they present enough of a picture for us to get an overall sense of the way faith-informed Orthodox scholars will engage their academic task. The themes are an invitation to academics today to consult traditional religious sources for contemporary inspiration; to chart a middle course between sectarian separation and secular effacement for both the church and the academy; to prioritize attentiveness to word and narrative, and to the ultimate limits of all human knowledge; and to


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strive for a holistic vision in their educational task—resisting fragmentation and searching for unity within ourselves, unity of knowledge, even the unity of churches.


Reflection on the historiography of the relationship between Christianity and higher education in the United States and the contours of the current scholarship opens important space for alternate models of the relationship between faith and learning in higher education. In this space, there is room for the Orthodox to be authentically Orthodox—to plumb our traditionally religious sources for contemporary inspiration and to do so in conversation with those in the wider academy, living in the productive tension between sectarian separation and secular effacement. Orthodox Christians may enter this conversation that is a strong thread within American Christianity. The Protestant and Catholic scholars mentioned at the beginning of this introduction all make excellent conversation partners for the Orthodox. They are self-critical in a way that Orthodox should appreciate. They highlight temptations that are relevant for Orthodox Christians: epistemological arrogance, the notion of Christian scholarship as an antisecular crusade for truth, a “hyperphilosophical” approach, and the stricture of the notion that Christian scholarship must follow a singular path, regardless of a scholar’s own academic discipline or understanding of faith. Additionally, they help illumine the issues around the modern dichotomy between faith and knowledge on American soil. The wider conversation regarding faith and learning can assist Orthodox Christians in the American academy today with the process of gaining some thoughtful language and questions with which to engage the challenging task of relating faith and learning. Particularly helpful is Marsden’s insight into the idea of faith-informed scholarship and the ways religious commitments and traditions are likely to influence the evaluative dimensions of such scholarship. Boyer’s notion of Christian scholarship “tincturing the world of scholarship as a whole with a deepened sense of the unity of reality and of our responsibility to serve others” is a vision worthy of aspiration.



Striking commonalities emerge from both the mainstream literature and the Orthodox voices in this volume. There is shared concern about the rise in fundamentalism, and therefore about the critical importance of faith-informed scholarly work for the very future of the Christian faith. The perspective that Christian scholarship typically grows out of full personhood, not by sheer rationality or logic, and that it should aim to celebrate the wholeness of God’s creation, sounds strikingly similar to the Orthodox emphasis on education being holistic. We find in both sets of writers the notion that combining deep personal commitment to Christ and to the life of the mind is a matter of “living the questions.” Our best hope is that the volume provokes among its readers recognition of the lacuna, and therefore the finest result would be a flurry of response with additional perspectives, nuanced critiques, and further explorations. It is worth here suggesting three: a broad need, a narrow project, and an institutional necessity. First and foremost, there is the project of widening the scope of Orthodox thought by seeking more input from abroad. This includes the project of translation: there are scholars within traditionally Orthodox countries that have thought and published on this topic of faith and learning, faith and knowledge. English translation of the best of these publications is needed for the Orthodox in the English-speaking diaspora and for the ecumenical conversation. Additionally there is the necessity of increasing research on and collaboration with Orthodox schools abroad. While the bulk of Orthodox institutions of higher education abroad are seminaries, graduate theological schools, or theological faculties attached to universities, there are a few institutions with broader aims in their missions. In addition to the University of Balamand, several other Orthodox universities have opened within the last half-century. Perry Glanzer of Baylor University has done some preliminary work on this topic within the context of Christian higher education globally. In his essay “Resurrecting Universities with Soul: Christian Higher Education in Post-Communist Europe,” for instance, he discusses the opening of St. John Orthodox University in Moscow in 1992 (whose founder, Father Ioann Ekonomtzsev, told the New York Times in 1998, “Our purpose was to bring about a synthesis between scholarship and faith, and religion and morality, because scholarship without morality at its core is dangerous”) and St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University in Moscow in 2004, which grew out of underground Bible


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courses offered during the communist era.84 St. Tikhon’s University in particular has become a premier training ground for lay Orthodox academics—male and female—who in many ways are raising the bar for the next generation of Orthodox scholars. Second, a specific project: a sociological study of American Orthodox youth and their undergraduate experience, examining where they go to college, what they study, what level and distribution of degrees they earn, and what percentage remain active members of an Orthodox church during college. What role does higher education play in young people leaving (or entering) the Orthodox Church? This project would help the Orthodox Church in the United States understand itself as well as help a wider audience understand Orthodox Christian college students. Third, the institutional necessity: on a very practical level, this volume hopes to provoke further work from and for those Orthodox institutions in North America that have faith and learning as one of their aims but have not, to date, had much Orthodox scholarly literature to support their endeavors. Simultaneously, the editors hope that this volume will help the Orthodox Church celebrate the vocation of its academics across the disciplines, and make use of them to help the church chart a wise middle course in meeting the twenty-first-century needs of its people. The Orthodox should not feel alone in this challenge. In the 2001 publication As Leaven in the World: Catholic Perspectives on Faith, Vocation, and the Intellectual Life, Thomas Landy grounds his introduction in an experience that could be easily rewritten as precisely reflecting that of Orthodox academics: Today, young Catholic scholars often tell me that they find themselves in a double bind: their academic colleagues have no interest in talking about religion except to caricature it; other Catholics seldom can relate to the academic work as potentially valuable from a religious point of view. When they ask people in ministry for help figuring out how to be disciples in the world, they are often sent away from intellectual pursuits, to volunteer in some sort of social service. Few of them are helped to explore deeply how the disciplinary work they are dedicating their talents to could also be a vocation.85



If this has been the experience of Orthodox scholars, this volume should give them the raw material to radically rethink their academic gifts as vocation. To put it more strongly, as McGuckin does: for first-world Orthodox in America, our sociological and financial position requires this of us. It is simply the vocation of Orthodox Christians in American higher education to use their academic talents for a deeper reflection on the pressing needs of the world and the church for this century. NOTES This essay has benefited immensely from the thoughtful feedback of a number of readers. Particular thanks to James Skedros, George Behrakis, Charles Ajalat, and Vera Shevzov. 1. For overviews of the Orthodox Christian tradition, see John Anthony McGuckin, The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008); Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church, rev. ed. (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 2015; first published 1963); Theofanis G. Stavrou and Bryn Geffert, eds., Eastern Christianity: The Essential Texts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016). Regarding the Orthodox not establishing their own colleges, if we are tempted to see it as a numbers issue—arguing that Orthodox Christians simply did not have the critical mass to support any endeavor in higher education—one simply has to compare this with Mennonite Church USA, which provides denominational oversight to five colleges and universities (and two seminaries) in the United States. As of 2013, it was reporting a membership of fewer than one hundred thousand. Hellenic College (founded in 1968), the only accredited Orthodox Christian college in the Western Hemisphere, can be seen as an interesting and important exception to this; see Thomas C. Lelon, “Hellenic College: The Enduring Vision” (paper presented at Orthodox Theological Society in America Annual Conference, Cenacle Retreat Center, Chicago, June 12, 2008). Yet Hellenic College’s own limited growth over the last five decades illustrates a certain absence of a collective vision among Orthodox Christians to commit institutional resources and secure the philanthropic support. There is, however, new momentum around the topic—see “Emerging Orthodox Themes” in this introduction. 2. Study of Orthodox theology in the United States has been relegated almost exclusively to Orthodox seminaries or graduate theological schools. An interesting comparison is the case of Jewish Studies in the United States, where as early as the 1960s it was heralded that there was “a spread of Jewish studies as


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an accepted academic discipline in the American liberal-arts colleges and universities.” Kristen Loveland, “The Association for Jewish Studies: A Brief History,” in Association for Jewish Studies: 40th Annual Conference, December 21–23, 2008 (New York: Association for Jewish Studies, 2008), http://www.ajsnet.org/ajs.pdf. As for comparison with the Roman Catholic tradition, according to the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, there are currently thirty-six Catholic colleges and universities with Catholic studies programs (most majors, a few of these minors) and seven Catholic studies programs at non-Catholic universities. Washington, DC: Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, 2015, http://www.accunet.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3914. The founding of chairs and centers in Orthodox theology has finally begun quite recently at institutions apart from Orthodox graduate schools and seminaries. The first chair in Orthodox theology at any undergraduate institution in the country was established in 2009—the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture at Fordham University. It was preceded significantly by the 1987 founding of the Alexander G. Spanos Chair of Eastern Orthodox Christian Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, but an important caveat for this present volume is that the home of this chair was within a graduate school of theology. In 2011 the University of Notre Dame established an endowed chair, the Archbishop Demetrios Professorship in Byzantine Theology. Both Fordham and Notre Dame chairs were named in honor of Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, who has the unusual distinction as an Orthodox hierarch of studying on scholarship at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, receiving a doctorate in New Testament and Christian Origins as well as a ThD in theology from the University of Athens. While serving on faculty from 1983 to 1993 at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, he also taught at Harvard Divinity School as Visiting Professor of New Testament (1984–85, 1988–89). As is noted in Candace Hetzner’s essay in this volume, Orthodox bishops by and large do not have substantial experience with university education and university systems. The important exception of Archbishop Demetrios, the current primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America, is already proving to change the landscape of Orthodox theological studies in the United States. 3. One volume on the topic was produced in the twentieth century: James Steve Counelis, Higher Learning and Orthodox Christianity (Scranton, PA: University of Scranton Press, 1990). Counelis, a professor of education of the University of San Francisco, published the volume’s essays between 1963 and 1989 in various church or scholarly journals or newspapers. There are only two reviews of his book. In one 1990 review, Orthodox professor Charles B. Ashanin, late professor of early church history emeritus at Christian Theological Seminary in



Indianapolis, supports the notion of Counelis’s book appearing in a vast lacuna, for he complains of “abysmal ignorance” on the part of both Orthodox and Protestant scholars on the topic. The second review, by Orthodox theologian and ethicist Stanley Harakas, longtime professor at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, gives a good summary of what Counelis is trying to accomplish. He insinuates that the weaknesses of the volume are that the essays span three decades, are intended for significantly different audiences, and use terms from a wide variety of worlds in which Counelis works. Indeed, Counelis’s use of theological language and terms would seem a bit strange to today’s Orthodox Christian theologian or lay reader, and as far as I can tell, the volume has had scant circulation among Orthodox academics. However, for Harakas (and me) it does offer “valuable affirmation of the view of the Cappadocian Fathers and St. John Chrysostom that true knowledge and true faith not only can, but also should walk together.” 4. In the words of Mark Noll, “The recent flourishing of scholarship on religion in American higher education has altered the dynamics of historiographical concern with remarkable effect. Increasingly, the displacement of religion from higher learning is viewed as a contingent rather than an inevitable occurrence.” Noll’s description of James Burtchaell’s book The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches is succinct: “The religion of America’s historic Christian colleges and universities has undergone slow evisceration over the course of the twentieth century because the piety in these institutions was intellectually shallow, their ecclesiology was self-destructively low-church, and their administrators all too often acted with craven short-sightedness.” Mark A. Noll, “The Future of the Religious College: Looking Ahead by Looking Back,” in The Future of Religious Colleges: The Proceedings of the Harvard Conference on the Future of Religious Colleges, October 6–7, 2000, ed. Paul John Dovre (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 75. 5. Dovre, Future of Religious Colleges, ix. 6. “All told, we visited more than fifty campuses, ranging from Brown University to Brigham Young, Vassar College to Cal State Bakersfield, MIT to Ave Maria, Penn State to Pepperdine, the University of Miami to Pacific Lutheran, Yale to USC, and the United States Air Force Academy to Soka University (a Buddhist-influenced school in southern California).” Douglas G. Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), viii. 7. “Pace-setting” is Marsden’s term. For a helpful chart of colonial colleges and their denominational affiliations, see the Jacobsens’ ch. 2 in ibid., 18. Note that Harvard was founded in 1636, a mere sixteen years after the first arrival of Pilgrims.


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8. “The American university system was built on a foundation of evangelical Protestant colleges. Most of the major universities evolved directly from such nineteenth-century colleges. As late as 1870 the vast majority of these were remarkably evangelical. Most of them had clergymen-presidents who taught courses defending Biblicist Christianity and who encouraged periodic campus revivals.” George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 4. 9. Ryan J. Barilleaux, review of The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, by George Marsden, Catholic Social Science Review 3 (1998), http://catholic socialscientists.org/cssr/Archival/vol_iii.html. 10. Throughout this introduction I use the term “Orthodox academics” to describe Orthodox Christian scholars of any discipline who naturally see the relationship between their faith and their professional work . . . or, in the words of Elizabeth Prodromou, scholars whose research sometimes deals with Orthodoxy but who are always scholars who are Orthodox. For where wider literature asks for Orthodox involvement, see note 21. 11. “A unified and universal science would provide an objective basis for a united society.” Marsden, Soul of the American University, 429. 12. Marsden explains, “Liberal Protestants justified these exclusions not only on the negative grounds that traditional Christian beliefs were unscientific, but also by the positive rationale that cultural development advanced the Kingdom of God.” Ibid. Marsden also shows how Catholic education evolves from these discriminatory attitudes. 13. Marsden, “Beyond Progressive Scientific Humanism,” in Dovre, Future of Religious Colleges, 48. “Laudable zeal to ensure that no one religion be established eventually led to an overcorrection that left the academy with inadequate ways to accommodate varieties of faith-informed scholarship.” 14. Some of these questions are raised later on in this section. For a fascinating analysis of the shift in question-asking, see the Jacobsens’ chapter “A Framework for Better Questions,” in Jacobsen and Jacobsen, No Longer Invisible. 15. Douglas G. Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, Sholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 23. 16. Ibid. 17. Ibid. 18. Ibid. 19. And has “spawned perhaps more sustained reflection on faith and learning than any other Protestant theological tradition” (26). 20. Jacobsen and Jacobsen, Sholarship and Christian Faith, 26.



21. Ibid., 28. See also Thomas Albert Howard’s introduction to The Future of Christian Learning: An Evangelical and Catholic Dialogue (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2008), 17, where he mentions Eastern Orthodox as an important future conversation partner. 22. Georgetown University was founded in 1789; Notre Dame in 1842; Catholic University of America, 1887. 23. Howard, Future of Christian Learning, 7. 24. Marsden, Soul of the American University, 5. 25. Ibid., 272. 26. See Marsden’s section on Catholic Authoritarianism in ibid., 270–76. 27. James Turner, “Enduring Differences, Blurring Boundaries,” in Howard, Future of Christian Learning, 76. 28. Mark W. Roche, “The Intellectual Appeal of Catholicism,” in Dovre, Future of Religious Colleges, 165. 29. Many recent collections of interdisciplinary essays on faith and scholarship include Catholic voices. Thomas Albert Howard edited a 2006 dialogue between Mark A. Noll and James Turner held on the campus of Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, and noted, “That such a dialogue on such a topic between a leading American evangelical scholar and a leading American Catholic scholar would take place at an evangelical college in the heart of New England reflects changes that have been and remain underfoot.” 30. Douglas Sloan, “Faith and Knowledge: Religion and the Modern University,” in Dovre, Future of Religious Colleges, 22. Sloan summarizes that during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, three assumptions about knowing and knowable reality increasingly dominated thinking and consciousness: an objectivistic assumption derived from the now notorious Cartesian split between subject and object, or “onlooker consciousness”; the epistemological assumption that we can know only that which is given through our ordinary physical senses and abstractions from sense experience; and the metaphysical assumption that reality is ultimately quantitative. He refers to the work of French sociologist Jaques Ellul to list the three great positive effects this had on modern Western culture: technical reason, an emerging sense of individuality and of individual worth, and the possibility of genuine freedom. But he then goes on to explain that when leading Protestant theological-educational reformers went to study the positives and negatives, they found the negative consequences of the assumptions of modernity were threatening the survival of the positive. Ibid., 4–5. Sloan references Jacques Ellul and Matthew J. O’Connell, The Betrayal of the West (New York: Seabury Press, 1978). 31. Jacobsen and Jacobsen, No Longer Invisible. See in particular chapter 7, “Framing Knowledge.”


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32. His books include Faith and Knowledge: Mainline Protestantism and American Higher Education (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1994), and Douglas Sloan and Charles F. Kettering Foundation, Insight-Imagination: The Emancipation of Thought and the Modern World, Contributions in Philosophy (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983). 33. Sloan, “Faith and Knowledge,” 25. 34. Ibid. 35. Turner, “Enduring Differences, Blurring Boundaries,” 97–98. 36. Jacobsen and Jacobsen, No Longer Invisible, 6. 37. Roche, “Intellectual Appeal of Catholicism,” 175–76. 38. Ex Corde Ecclesiae, part I, A, 1, sec. 17, website of the Holy See, 1990, http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf _jp-ii_apc_15081990_ex-corde-ecclesiae.html. See also Joseph M. Herlihy, “Reflections on Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” in Dovre, Future of Religious Colleges, 285. 39. Sloan, “Faith and Knowledge,” 22. 40. Ibid. 41. For an excellent discussion of the differences and commonalities, see Turner, “Enduring Differences, Blurring Boundaries.” 42. The subhead of this section, “Religious Scholars in the Academy: Anachronism or Leaven?,” was used as a subhead by Paul John Dovre in his introduction to The Future of Religious Colleges: The Proceedings of the Harvard Conference on the Future of Religious Colleges, October 6–7, 2000, ed. Paul John Dovre (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), v. 43. George Marsden, “Beyond Progressive Scientific Humanism,” in Dovre, Future of Religious Colleges, 44. 44. Ibid. 45. Ibid., 45. “The big difference between feminist and religious faithinformed perspectives in relation to the academic establishment is not intellectual, but rather political. Feminism has been accepted because it has been associated with the very popular movement in the academy for equal opportunity for women. Traditionalist religious perspectives, on the other hand, are bucking strong political prejudices against the religious right and many ideological and economic pressures for a religiously homogenized public life. For those reasons, faith-informed perspectives have been developed best in religiously affiliated colleges that have maintained some sense of separate identity from the American mainstream.” Ibid., 49. 46. Marsden says of his own work that he sees “the commitment to the historian’s craft as only one of several traditions shaping [his] scholarship.” Ibid., 45. 47. Ibid., 45–46.



48. For expansion of these ideas, see ibid., 46. 49. Crystal L. Downing, “Imbricating Faith and Learning: The Architectonics of Christian Scholarship,” in Jacobsen and Jacobsen, Scholarship and Christian Faith, 42. 50. Jacobsen and Jacobsen, Scholarship and Christian Faith, 45. 51. Ibid., 46. 52. Ibid. Reference to David Hollenbach, “The Catholic University under the Sign of the Cross: Christian Humanism in a Broken World,” in Finding God in All Things, ed. Michael J. Himes and Stephen J. Pope (New York: Crossroads, 1996), 283. 53. Jacobsen and Jacobsen, Sholarship and Christian Faith, 47. 54. Ibid., 48. 55. Ibid., 52. 56. Roche, “Intellectual Appeal of Catholicism,” 173. 57. Ibid., 173–75. 58. Samuel Schuman, Seeing the Light: Religious Colleges in Twenty-FirstCentury America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), 3–4. 59. Naomi Schaefer Riley, God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005). Riley herself is a 1998 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University. 60. Marsden, “Beyond Progressive Scientific Humanism,” 47. 61. Ibid., 35–36. 62. Ibid., 50. 63. Noll, “Future of the Religious College,” 91. 64. Ibid., 93. 65. William C. Ringenberg, The Christian College and the Meaning of Academic Freedom (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), xiii. 66. Monika K. Hellwig, “Emerging Patterns among Roman Catholic Colleges and Universities,” in Dovre, Future of Religious Colleges, 104. 67. Ibid., 105. 68. Ibid., 111. 69. Ibid., 113. 70. Ibid., 113–15. 71. To see the broad impact of this work, see Tim Clydesdale, The Purposeful Graduate: Why Colleges Must Talk to Sudents about Vocation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015). See also David S. Cunningham, At This Time and in This Place: Vocation and Higher Education (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). The Council of Independent Colleges now administers the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), a nationwide network of colleges and universities formed to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students.


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72. It was not until 1966 that St. Vladimir’s became a member of the Association of Theological Schools and received state authorization to award master’slevel degrees. John H. Erickson, “St. Vladimir’s Seminary and Undergraduate Education” (paper presented at the Orthodox Theological Society in America Annual Conference, 2008). 73. Ibid. 74. Lelon, “Hellenic College.” 75. Ibid. Anton C. Vrame used the words “roller coaster experience” to describe this history of Hellenic College in the call for papers for the 2008 conference, Being Orthodox in the Academy: Does It Matter? Should It Matter?, cosponsored by the Orthodox Theological Society in America and the Office of Vocation & Ministry at Hellenic College. 76. In the past thirty to forty years a few influential scholars have bucked this trend and had long tenures as Orthodox faculty in public universities. Theofanis Stavrou has served on faculty at the University of Minnesota since 1961 in the Department of History, where he teaches courses and advises doctoral students on the history and culture of Eastern Orthodoxy. He has served as the founder and editor of the journal Modern Greek Studies Yearbook: A Publication of Mediterranean, Slavic, and Eastern Orthodox Studies (1985–) and has produced a remarkable number of publications on the topic. Michael Plekon, an Orthodox priest who has served on faculty at Baruch College of the City University of New York since 1977, reflects on his experience and vision in this present volume. Vigen Guroian began his academic career in 1978 at the University of Virginia, from where he also retired as professor of religious studies in 2015. James Counelis serves as a fourth example; see note 3. 77. Origen et al., The Philocalia of Origen: The Text Revised, with a Critical Introduction and Indices, ed. and trans. Armitage Robinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1893). 78. Scholars from outside the Orthodox tradition might ask why retelling the oft-told tale of Basil, Gregory, and Origen would make a more forceful impression on Orthodox practice now than it has in the past. The simple answer is that we don’t find any notable, extended, influential references to these three around the relationship of faith and learning outside recent years by Orthodox writers. The story is not oft-told for the Orthodox, but rather a truly contemporary academic question. 79. James Turner argues that this had also been the pattern of the Catholic intellectual life through the mid-twentieth century. “Up to the 1960s at least, Catholic writers were as likely to interrogate Aristotle or Anselm or Aquinas as their own contemporaries. When the Second Vatican Council’s spirit of aggiornamento opened the church’s windows to the contemporary world, the winds of



change sometimes drowned out these voices of the past.” Turner, “Enduring Differences, Blurring Boundaries,” 94. 80. This habit has been compared to the Jewish midrashic tradition. See ch. 6, “Aural,” in Eugen J. Pentiuc, The Old Testament in Eastern Orthodox Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014). 81. Margaret Mitchell’s study on the textual relationship between Chrysostom and the apostle Paul is worth studying for broadening understanding of this notion. She explains that Chrysostom’s own fundamental hermeneutical claim was that he understood the writings of the apostle so well because he loved him so much. Mitchell says of Chrysostom’s relationship with Paul, “He was acutely aware of the absence and distance of the apostle in the present, the inability to ‘see’ him now (though that was one of the eschatological rewards for which he longingly waited), yet he also felt that in touching the codex, in hearing the apostle’s words read, and in studying them carefully and preaching on them, he was in constant, lively conversation with him.” The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002), 36–37. Moreover, Chrysostom roots this hermeneutical claim in an epistemological principle, which is itself grounded in a friendship topos: “For what belongs to those who are loved, they who love them know above all others.” Thus for Chrysostom the reader must embrace the sacred author for meaning to be conveyed and apprehended (not surprisingly this is also the content of his exhortation to his hearers to prepare for Scripture study). His hermeneutics of love lead even to a hermeneutics of conformity, as in the interpretive conversation the two were conjoined in an unbreakable bond that was both spiritual and intellectual. (39–40) I am indebted to the study of Hans-Georg Gadamer for this point, specifically regarding conversations with classic texts. Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, 2nd ed. (New York: Crossroad, 1989). 82. John Behr, The Way to Nicaea, vol. 1 of The Formation of Christian Theology (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001). 83. Jacobsen and Jacobsen, Sholarship and Christian Faith, 28. 84. Joel Carpenter, Perry L. Glanzer, and Nicholas S. Lantinga, eds., Christian Higher Education: A Global Reconnaissance (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 171, citing Marina Lakhman, “Russia’s Church-Run Campus Has a Secular Goal,” New York Times, January 1, 1998, sec. 1, p. 3. 85. Thomas M. Landy, As Leaven in the World: Catholic Perspectives on Faith, Vocation, and the Intellectual Life (Franklin, WI: Sheed & Ward, 2001), xi–xii.




theologicAl roots




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In the ancient world—that so-important cultural-placental context in which the Orthodox Church first emerged, and whose attitudes and presuppositions shaped it so forcibly (whether it conformed to them or fought against them)—it is important for us to remember that (at a fair guess) 95 percent of all men were illiterate; 99 percent of women were illiterate.1 This did not make them stupid; and we should not fall into that common assumption of cultural superiority that textualists have over nontextualists, and moderns over premoderns. It simply made them express their deep native intelligence in ways other than the obsession with texts that we take for granted today. Our ready access to textuality has come at the cost of other forms of intelligence. In antiquity there was a widespread allegiance to narrative tales orally conveyed as a medium of understanding and expression. If one had a puzzle to resolve, it was not first and foremost to a text that one would turn (or an online reference, for that matter—oh the innocent days before Google and Wikipedia!). Rather, one would search for a story, preferably one with a good patina of history. We are not all that removed from the ancients, despite our 55


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layers of postmodern textual sophistication. If we were to pass by a venerable elder and overhear, “A long long time ago, in a far distant land . . . ,” who among us would not stop and listen? Oral narrative for most of history has been king; and even if he is in disguise today, in the blizzard of stories and imagery whirling around us, his rule is not over.


The Christians told stories from the beginning. Their stories were educational. They were important. Believers had more than enough mythic tales to entertain them in the surrounding society, which had taken mythic narrative to heights never seen before and never to be seen again until the twentieth century gaily dived into this sea once more.2 They wanted to tell serious stories about freedom, cleanness of heart, joyful resistance, how to gain peace of soul, and what the journey of the soul in the afterlife would be like. They carefully pared myth, whittled it like clean white wood until a new form came out from the dense and pagan undergrowth. Their stories accumulated around the stories of the Great Storyteller, Jesus himself, whose choice to enshrine all his saving kerygma in the twin loci of symbolic deeds (his healings, exorcisms, his fearless braving of the Roman authorities) and parabolic wisdom sayings became a form of authority for passing on the saving kerygma of the Christian gospel chiefly in the medium of the story. We even “narrate” our most holy mysteries: cardinal sacred events in the church we also choose to describe by the Greek verb myein (noun: mystērion), which signifies the action of “keeping silence.” We are inveterate narrators, so it seems. The Gospels took shape in the latter half of the first century precisely as stories about Jesus’ saving deeds and his wise words. Theology is there in abundance as well as much deep reflection from the evangelists and apostles. Fundamentally, all the literature we now call the New Testament is a sustained exercise in preaching the good news of Jesus’ salvation; it arrived in print not because it was good literature, but rather because it was excellent narrative preaching that could be reused as a sermon by generations of liturgical preachers after the apostolic generation. It was

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this constant use as story material that led to its compilation in text form and its eventual emergence as the canon of the New Testament. But it was authoritative preaching long before it was acclaimed as canon. Even to this day we Orthodox read the gospel to the faithful in church, proclaim it as story; we never suggest all the congregation “turn to page ten” and read silently to themselves. Jesus said: “Listen, you who have ears to hear” (Mark 4:9, my translation). From the very beginning, then, the church is a gathering, “a coming together to hear the story.” The word “gathering” in Hebrew is qahal, the assembly (of Israel); remembering this, the Greek Septuagint used ekklēsia—our root word for “church”—to connote the same thing. To be church is to gather around the Lord in order to hear his stories, believe them as true, thus believe in him as in the true Messenger (malakh) who preaches them, and so become enabled to pass them on through history—not as “rumors from a distant land,” but as living truth, out from which the church lives, in whose energeia of Holy Spirit the church subsists.


In short, from the beginning of the Orthodox Church’s existence it has been attentive ( prosochē). To be church means to be attentive. Only from its attentiveness has it been enabled to hear the Word. Not all could listen to the story of the Word. Some were (and sadly still are) “on the outside,” and the story (even from the mouth of the Master Storyteller) came across to them as riddles (Mark 4:11) or appeared to them as foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18–23; 1 Cor. 2:14; Matt. 27:41–44). They had ears but they could not hear, and it remains the same to this day—part of the mystery of God’s dispensation of his mercy revealed to the humble of heart, but kept back from the proud and self-enlightened (Matt. 11:25). This is what Orthodox culture is rooted in and founded on. It is the jewel in the box of all Orthodox educational philosophy—that sense of the “mystery” of education—or paideia, as the ancients called it. And here I do not use the word “mystery” loosely—as so often we hear it bandied about in Orthodox discourse circles. I use it quite precisely and with the


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theological freighting it bears in terms of a sacramental and holy thing (to mystērion). For among the Orthodox, at our best, we seek the illumination of paideia with the inner spirit of wisdom: a spirit of holiness which belongs to Christ as the Divine Sophia itself, passing on his wisdom in the aliveness of his church, through the grace of the Holy Spirit of God. Wisdom as we pass it on, in and through the church (the semantic root of the word “tradition” [traditio] means “to pass on”), is thus, in every sense of the phrase, a holy mystery. We are never authorized to treat it as less. Never for us, if we remain true to our Orthodox sensibility, could we evoke such a concept as “secular learning,” or liberal humanism, as our pedagogical goal. What we offer up, as Gregory the Theologian says, is “words and ideas in the service of God the Word”—which in his most elegant Greek is much more cleverly put: “Logoi in obeisance to the Logos.”3 Now this understanding of what being “learned” means implies that our educational goals, as Orthodox Church-men and -women, will be no less strenuous than the goals of the other learned ones of our age—people who operate schools that set standards that we ought to look to constantly to see whether we are in the same league or not, whether we have sufficient resources to justify our claim to offer a serious high-quality educational experience wherever we are located on the educational horizon, from grade school to university college. Constant reality checks keep us honest and solidly based. We must always want to make our missions (for any school we have is no less than an Orthodox mission) the very best we can possibly make them. Mediocrity is not a reverent option, any more than it would be to settle for mediocrity in liturgical celebration: such a settlement becomes, de facto, sacrilegious. Many a time, in various places in the world, I have been in Orthodox schools whose self-promotional literature (and obvious self-originating identification) proclaims them as “world leaders,” while their product and support base actually tell a very different story. Who are we fooling, I wonder? Certainly not the outside world, whose educational standards have served to inspire us, not the other way round. So that leaves ourselves, I suppose. The old Russians had a word for this: prelest. And prelest (delusional pride) has so much to say to the issue of seeking a learnedness that is truly wise and spiritual, that we really ought to propel it to the forefront of our reflections on Orthodox paideia. Our goal for higher

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education is harder and more profound than that of most secular schools today, which have often and largely given up on the ancient concerns, and have been more willing than at most other times in history to separate cleverness from being wise, to cut off knowing about things from knowing the how and why of things, to divorce living to learn from learning to live—and in the process have made so many of our campuses a veritable desert of spiritual and cultural life, even as they still aspire to be focal points of a nation’s wisdom. This disconnect is staggering; but apparently it is not all that much of a concern that the emperor has no clothes. Orthodox paideia, it seems to me, does not necessarily demand a cleverness of intellect from each believer (though certainly that should be expected of its elite intellectual faithful, and we ought to know in the church precisely what that would look like), but rather definitely demands a most profound sense of discernment—that native intelligence of the soul which is God given, and which is possessed by every child as well as the most well-read scholar. This is that which we call “wisdom,” and it is a divine gift: not cherished enough in the church, not honored enough, not demanded widely enough. This is the “spiritual intelligence” the early fathers used to call nous. English is “a very limited language” (as Gregory the Theologian once said of Latin!), and it does not have the range of words the patristic Christian Greek had with which to describe the various levels of different types of understanding, and different levels of soul perception, possessed by each of us. Because of this we translate nous as “intellect,” and often imagine it to be brain function. But when the fathers speak, as they do so often, of nous, it really means that spiritual acuity in the human being that is given to each as part of the divine image embedded in every human soul: that, in other words, whereby we are able to know God, on the principle of like to like. The Byzantines were unique in the annals of the history of philosophy, it seems to me, in positing this form of consciousness as the most acute area of human perception and the goal of the overall evolution (epektasis, they would say—or endless stretching out of the human instinct) of consciousness. Modern secular understandings of education have lost this ethos to a very large degree, and thus appear more and more to Orthodox as the Hellenic schools did to the fathers: places where cleverness is highly prized, but where wisdom is often an embarrassment.


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The classic patristic doctrine of the image of God in the human being is entirely soteriological in function: it means that the nous, redeemed by the deifying presence of the Lord, is liberated from fraction and ignorance, and enabled to recognize reality in perceiving the presence of God once more. This fundamental patristic doctrine of salvation—one summed up in much Orthodox discourse as the theology of deification (theiopoiēsis)—is nothing more (but by no means anything less) than the other great New Testament themes and stories that try to describe the self-same mystery in terms such as “atonement,” “redemption,” or “transfiguration.” This perception of God’s presence and action in our life is the very heart of what the Orthodox Christian means by “knowing salvation.” For to know God truly is to know him as Savior. And this is why Orthodox existence is at heart a fundamentally noetic experience. That is to say, it is not merely an “intellectual” experience, but the growing consciousness in correctly interpreting life’s realities; the life of an individual believer grows into union with the Lord—becomes “in Christ,” as the apostle Paul used to repeat so often. I think this noetic basis of the union between the soul and the Lord is why an Orthodox theologian should insist on describing the experience of union with God as “enlightenment” (phōtismos). I know that a few great fathers spoke, rather, of the meeting with God in terms of “divine darkness”; but they were few, and even then relying on the biblical idiom and story that the darkness enveloped Sinai to protect the Israelites from the blinding revelation of the Shekinah light of God’s glory. In Hebraic thought the kabod, the heavy weight of the storm cloud, was the chariot or carrier of the lightning flash of the Shekinah, which was more rightly the epiphany of the awesome presence of God addressed to his people.4 It seems to me, therefore, that Orthodoxy is, at its very heart, in its core understanding of redemption, a religion of enlightenment. It celebrates the opening of the eyes of mortals, and the opening of their minds to the wondrous presence of God as something sacred, mystical, unitive, delightful. Nothing so saddens me as to hear, occasionally, some of our believers taking delight in opposing Orthodoxy to “Enlightenment.” I know they often mean Deism by that. But just as often, it would appear, some among us seem to think that holiness is somehow served by obscurantism in place of clarity, bigotry in place of openness of mind and heart.

Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition


It is to me one of the most depressing betrayals of the beauty of that icon of the Orthodox Church which we are meant to depict for, and in, our modern world, because Orthodoxy, at all times in history when it has been fully functioning, has consistently proven itself to be a religious tradition loving enlightenment: delighted by books, inspired by art and culture, tolerant of a wide range of other “learnednesses,” even when it did not find them exactly to its own prescript.5 And yet, to speak honestly, the church leadership has not always given good example in terms of encouraging that delight of the eye of the mind opening to the sense of God—what we might call the true and final goal of all human perception and sensibility. At times, in fact, it has definitely been a force for bigotry and narrow-mindedness. But overall, I think, the church’s record throughout its two millennia of history can show that it has always been (at least in the cases of its greatest and most spiritual teachers) one of the most profound forces for the education of a deep human civilization. It has loved learning. It has wanted to educate its people. It has told them luminous stories. It has produced countless books, at great cost of labor. It has loved (and invented) the codex. It has delighted in men and women of learning. But always, it has known where its learning was looking. It has, to repeat the axiom of Saint Gregory the Theologian, “put letters in obeisance to the Word,” his pun used on several occasions—whenever, in fact, he thought his audience had not heard it before.6 The saying has the elegance and weight to merit its incision in stone over the lintel of every Orthodox academy.


Some of our history, however, has not positioned the Orthodox as well, educationally speaking, as some of our other Christian contemporaries in the Catholic and Protestant traditions. Now let me save time here, and share the reply I would give immediately to anyone criticizing the Orthodox for their relatively “poor showing” in terms of intellectual standards and cultural achievements in the last few hundred years (a criticism that has been elevated in extraordinary ways in recent times by the likes of


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Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” caricatures of the Orthodox as equivalent to a “closed mind-set,” while the European West—apparently— has an “open mind-set”7 ). The real reason for the loss of any “Renaissance equivalent” in the Greek East is no cerebral cortex difference (this whole argument seems to me to have unhappy resonances in it of the earlier bankrupt science of the “measurement of skulls” of different races), but rather the story of the advance of the armies of Muhammad. Orthodoxy lost several things in that crucible period that saw the ascent of Western Christian higher education from the universities of the high Middle Ages to the new academies of the Renaissance: first in line were territories, second were incomes, third were imperial and aristocratic leadership, fourth were schools and libraries, fifth were civic and cultural institutions. The Orthodox world has had a long subjugation. Those who have not shared it can all too easily take for granted the more settled prehistory of their own intellectual establishments. They can even fall into a rather crass type of naivism (neocolonialism?) about their current superior status. I was, some years back, in a renowned Orthodox theological school in Eastern Europe. We were a group of theologians including some Western feminist biblical critics. The exchange did not go well. The “Wall” had been down only a few years (1989), but it became clear there is more than one kind of wall. An American colleague, knowing me to stand in two worlds, Orthodoxy and Western university-level scholarship, expressed her frustration at the “dialogue” privately to me, somewhat shorttemperedly, saying: “You Orthodox really need to catch up with the modern world.” We were passing the academy’s library at that moment, and I waved a hand to beckon her inside: a lovely and spacious room, whose plaster was mainly on the floor, whose metal bookcases still lined all the walls, capable of holding thousands of volumes, now sporting no more than three hundred titles, none of which were more recent than 1940, all in oxidized and tattered paper bindings. It had once published prestigious series of journals and monographs, and had earned an international reputation. I could not resist the sly remark: “They have been very careless with their acquisitions, don’t you agree?” So, why are we Orthodox so slow to get in the higher education race? An easy answer is that the cultural devastation of five centuries over all the Orthodox world apart from Russia, yet allied to the savage break-

Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition


ing of Russia throughout almost all the twentieth century, is not something one can get over quickly. I stand in wonderment at the capability and flexibility of our church in the face of its emergence from a persecution more savage and extensive than anything that was ever witnessed in the age of the early martyrs. We can live without an emperor; it is difficult for a school to live in the absence of aristocratic patrons, for they support the buying of libraries, the salaries of academics, the refinement of standards, the solicitation of new generations of experts. All the great schools of the West have been built on the riches of an ascendant merchant culture. Orthodox schools have been rebuilt on the pennies of the exiles, remade through the tears and sacrifices of societies brought to their knees by totalitarian despots. It will take time. In Russia, Serbia, Romania, the signs of intellectual spring are already there. One day Orthodox theological imagination will wake up, like some Sleeping Beauty, in Greece too. America, rich in resources and prospects, has a special vocation to lead the way, though it is not rich in some aspects of Orthodox cultural history, and cannot presume to model a path that it expects other Orthodox lands simply to follow. In Western Europe, Orthodoxy is so poor it can only hope to elevate isolated examples of learned Orthodox scholars to keep alive the flame of our reputation. All of this suggests that Orthodox higher education’s new spring will certainly need to be a collaborative, pan-Orthodox affair if it is to be any use at all. We need to think outside of the old stiff boxes. So, if we look to diagnose the problem, let us not forget that the devastations of war and conquest explain more than a small amount of why a continuity of Orthodox higher education has been problematized. When Orthodox paideia carried a prison sentence of thirty years, it took courage to continue involvement in it in any form at all.


But persecution, extensive though it was, is not the only reason why Orthodoxy today might hesitate to engage in higher education outside the two channels that immediately spring to mind: ethnic cultural studies


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(Hellenism, Russianism, or whatever) and theological training of ministers. Beyond these two starting points—then what? And how do we parse even these two important factors? Do we find Orthodox schools that situate Russianism in the medium of Hellenism, or approach Christian Hellenism for what it once was in its glory—a lingua franca (or graeca, should we say) for the whole world, not a single ethnic identity? The Byzantine experience, accurately assessed, is one that functions from the highlands of Ethiopia to the Saxon court in England, from the steppes of Russia to the Nestorians of China. This is the refined spirit that Christian Byzantinism made out of the raw grape of Hellenism.8 To reduce it once again to an ethnic cultural study, separated from the greater sense of the pan-Orthodox world, would be to falsify its greatest and most evangelical achievement. The future of Orthodox higher education can be bright only when Christian Hellenism and Slavism meet in peace in a truly internationalized culture of Orthodoxy, ready to share its resources and, by so sharing, increase their potency. If hierarchs are not able to take the lead here, perhaps because of protocol or precedence issues, or simply by being caught up too much in the demands of ecclesiastical ceremonialism that became all the more symbolically important the more it signified politically less and less, then let the scholars do it. Let Orthodox intellectuals make visitations and collaborations with one another, across the national and ethnic Orthodox divides, between and among higher-level schools, as part of their faculty initiatives. Never has scholarship been so immediately transferable and internationally collaborative than in our own day because of the Internet. Orthodox intellectual association ought to be strenuously in the business of collaborative pan-Orthodox engagement. For Orthodox intellectual leaders, such engagement is the soul of their own development into what the concept of being an “Orthodox theologian” truly means (and certainly it is not just being a theologian who just happens to be Orthodox), as well as the core of their sacred mission on behalf of the church. To model a pan-Orthodox consciousness in our present higher education establishments (chiefly the seminaries at the moment) does not only make abundant common sense in the ongoing quest for higher standards of excellence, but is actually a pressing duty to represent to the outside world that we mean what we say about the church: that it is truly

Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition


catholic and apostolic, that Russians, Greeks, Romanians, and others care more for their commonality as Orthodox than for their differentiation by nationalisms. And what of religious and theological studies in the Orthodox academy? Here is where we have a historical shackle around our ankles that might hobble us in ways that we cannot understand without some knowledge of our past. For one of the peculiar things that marked Byzantine paideia was that it reverenced theology so highly that it could not bear to see it included in the standard curriculum of the school system.9 It was heavily monasticized and thus came eventually to be the primary preserve of the clergy, or of those lay intellectuals whose “schools” were sustained by a circle of monastics and aristocrats—take, for example, the circle of Photius.10 From the first setting out of how the church ought to approach theological education, a program we see very clearly in the writings of Origen of Alexandria, theology was not so much the “Queen of the Sciences” as the “Soul of the Sciences.” One could arrive at the dizzying heights of theologia, according to Origen, only after the eyes of the soul had been sufficiently purified as to be able to bear the force of the divine light. To strengthen the nous in its ascent, one needed the gamut of studies in mathematics, astronomy, literature, and so on. The Letter of Thanksgiving to Origen by his graduating pupil Theodore (whom tradition identifies as Saint Gregory Thaumaturgos) shows us this program operative already in the mid-third century. Origen set out to build at Caesarea Maritima, in Roman Palestine, a school of higher Christian studies that would be worthy of the notice of the world. He did this in contradistinction to the more narrowly conceived episcopal school at Alexandria, and fled to Caesarea precisely at the invitation of Bishops Alexander of Jerusalem and Theoctist of Caesarea, who shared his vision that a Christian school of theology had to be far more than a simple catechumens’ training camp—or (we might add) a closed seminary.11 The more refined version of this programmatic was set out more audaciously by a serious, but not uncritical, student of Origen, who represented the latter’s views on the meaning of paideia and served as the teacher of both Saint Gregory of Nyssa and Evagrius of Pontus. I mean, of course, Saint Gregory the Theologian (Gregory of Nazianzus). At the end of Oration 27, the first of his Five Theological Orations, he sums up


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why people get theology wrong, in his opinion, telling his reader: “Theology is not for everyone, at any time, or in any context.” He comes out with several memorable and telling points in these Five Theological Orations (Orations 27–31), which were once regarded, for most of Christian antiquity and the Middle Ages, as sufficient theological curriculum in and of themselves to represent the faith, but are now more or less entirely unread even by the Orthodox. Just as uproarious laughter would be “out of place,” he says, at a funeral service, so too the “unseeing” should not presume to embark on theology just because they feel clever. He has in his gunsights, in his own day and age, “salon theologians,” or Arians, who, like sophisticated lounge lizards, have the ear of the aristocracy and who market theological discourse in the form of popular evening lectures and adult education courses (fee-paying ones). Gregory is appalled by this behavior. He calls for the theologian to take refuge in silence, to be sparing of words, since the task of theology is a “difficult word,” not an easy or voluble form of speech. His method favors apophatic approaches (those that turn into silence in preference to dialectic) and a preferential option for an ascetic training, training that makes forays into theological speech consequent on years of refinement— moral and intellectual. To Gregory it mattered that if a person did not have an “ear” for a good line of Greek (in other words, could not act publicly as an advanced exegete of the intellectual cultural tradition), they should still dare to presume to make public statements about secret matters of the church’s life. Part of this is coded language, calling on theology to be a reserved set of discourses—properly engaged in only by ascetic rhetorician-bishops such as himself, and definitely not by his arch opponents among the Arians, who relocated theological argument out of the liturgical setting of the churches and into the salons of the major cities. Gregory’s program is a very important stage in the progression of Orthodox thinking towards the category of the “father of the church” as one of the sources of the authoritative tradition. Gregory is the first to “canonize” an actual “father of the church” in the form of his Oration 21 celebrating the great Athanasius as model theologian. In the fifth century, Saint Cyril of Alexandria took this movement one stage further by drawing up, at the Ephesine Council of 431, authoritative lists (canons) of the major fathers who enshrined the authentic Orthodox faith. Patristic witness, of course, is only one of the several forms and channels that run to-

Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition


gether to make up the more variegated weave of the Orthodox tradition as such (we need also to add—with a primary stress—biblical precedent, conciliar consensus, liturgical grounding, canonical legislation, and international affirmation, or sensus fidelium). But the movement to sequester theology as a venerable subject, fit for the ascetic and experienced and for those highly advanced in other studies, more or less made it the case that the schools of Byzantium never included religious studies on their curricula. This is both curious and startling when we consider how profoundly religious Byzantium was in all aspects of its life. Even the loaves of bread in the marketplaces, and the coins in their pockets, were stamped with images of Christ and the Virgin; but religious education had no place in their schools, which is why when one closely looks at the typical Byzantine course of studies, it looks puzzlingly pagan. This, however, is a surface illusion; because when we, as moderns, abstract from the surviving paper curriculum the paucity of religious texts explicitly studied, we tend to overlook the overwhelmingly liturgical nature of life in Byzantium, and consequently to forget the massive amount of biblical textuality and Christian symbolism conveyed by this medium, both in the churches themselves and in the ubiquitous street processions. Religious pedagogy was alive and well in Byzantium; it was just felt to be too sacred a thing to roll up with other subjects in the classroom. Theology for the Byzantines was best mediated to the faithful through the genres of liturgy and preaching, through hagiography, iconography, and hymnography. Theologians were to be trained at the patriarchal academy, chosen from out of those being trained for clerical advancement, but already separated out from the ranks of ordinary scholars at the schools where the ancient Roman quadrivium still formed the staple of a deeply literary model of education.12


Byzantium, with its immense stress on intellectual continuities, retained the antique Roman system of education through to the fall of empire in the fifteenth century—including a stricter separation of theology from


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the rest of the curriculum than would ever be the case in the new schools of the high medieval West. The separation was partly because the Byzantines felt that sacred things ought to be followed in sacred spaces—not like the Arians performing “salon theology”—but also because with the rise of monasticism there was a strong sentiment that the pursuit of theology was inseparable from the pursuit of spiritual wisdom and from personal ascetical purification, and since the latter was possible only “according to the degree” of an individual’s capacity at different times of life, it was best pursued in the intimate situation of very small groups associated with spiritual elders. When Byzantine and Latin theologians finally met up in the same room at Ferrara in the 1438 discussions preceding the Council of Florence, the Byzantines felt at a profound disadvantage in the face of scholastically trained theologians who had spent years systematically categorizing their theology in the light of literary and philosophical authorities. The Byzantines were out of their depth, methodologically. The antique system of their education had given them resources, yet had also limited their imaginative range. It had certainly drawn a ring fence around the articulation of theological topics. This same attitude has continued among us Orthodox to this day. It has given our theology a slower character, a more introverted cast, certainly a more liturgical and doxological coloration, which we treasure and would do well to defend; but it has also disconnected us from the increasing speed of scholastic taxonomies (the new “isms” that are so regularly appearing) that constitute the rules of discourse of other Catholic and Protestant religious academies, rules that we need to watch and understand (if not always heed) so as to be able to know, by wise judgment and not by mere prejudice, what we should learn from and what we should strenuously avoid. In Byzantium (a pattern to be followed by the Slavic churches without much change), theology was reserved for the monastic schools and firmly set within the ascetical context. This took Gregory the Theologian at more than his face value (he had presumed a full secular education would be de rigueur for a theologian-bishop and severely mocked his successor at Constantinople, Nektarios, for not balancing deep secular and theological learning). These schools, instead of focusing on the great doctrinal debates of the late antique age, more and more turned all their

Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition


attention to the twin foci of monastic hagiography (which rises to be the definitive religious literature of the late Byzantine age) and canon law for prospective clergy. This was part of the narrowing of the sense of “ecclesial agenda” where clerics would be prepared for governance of churches and the application of purely ecclesiastical canons, while the nonclerical elites would be trained in rhetoric (the classics) and the administration of the civic legal code. In Christian antiquity the bishops of great cities were at one and the same moment the great litterateurs and theologians. In medieval times the bishops had all been exclusively monastically trained from their youth, and no longer could command the extensive background of paideia that marked out the antique episcopacy (the age of “the fathers”). In a real sense the monastic impetus narrowed the range of Byzantine education, and since monasticism was the “great survivor” of the political disasters that befell the Christian East, its more rigid and narrower view of “the world” became dominant in the second millennium of Orthodoxy. The compass point was set for the slow sinking of the monastic schools into the twilight that they eventually arrived at, unable to think themselves out of the box they had lidded themselves into. There were notable exceptions, of course: monastics who were the leading intellectuals of the day, whose leaping intelligence and imaginative writing still commands our interest, men such as Maximos the Confessor and Gregory Palamas. But they are not really typical Byzantine theologians. They were throwbacks to the Greek fathers of the Late Antique Age; when they did emerge—like lightning-flashes out of the gloom of the monastic school system—it was usually because (like Paisy Velichovsky was to do in the eighteenth century, and Georges Florovsky was to do in the twentieth) they had fled back to the deeper harbors of the ancient fathers, running hard from the Babylonian captivity of an Orthodox educational system that in many ways had closed the door on truly wise learning, by restricting so severely the range of what it was felt appropriate to study. Only the Great Patriarchal School at Constantinople broke the mold. In the eleventh century, when it once more sprang into new life (it had a sporadic existence across many centuries), it had a parallel curriculum with a master (maistor) of rhetoric, who had under his direction grammarians who instructed in the arts of literary interpretation, and a maistor (we may


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note with a raised eyebrow the use here of the Latin in Graecized form) for philosophy. The maistor of rhetoric replaced the quadrivium’s earlier reliance solely on Homeric texts as material for exemplary instruction in fine speaking, with examples taken from the Gospels. Biblical episodes were lifted out to become occasions of speech making or text-critical comment. Something similar had already been modeled, of course, by Apollinaris the Elder and the Younger in the fourth century, and by Saint Gregory the Theologian at the same period, who set the biblical verses in newly coined classical Greek poetic forms, with an eye to using biblical narratives to teach young students the literary arts. Basil the Great, a friend of Saint Gregory, echoed the substance of the latter’s program with his own Discourse to the Youth on how Christian educational philosophy should be inclusive and dynamic in scope: setting out to take what was useful from the Hellenes of the surrounding culture and reuse anything that could be turned to the service of the gospel. Basil (borrowing from Origen) dramatically called this the “despoiling of the Egyptians,” using the analogy (or type) of the biblical story of the Exodus, where God commanded the fleeing Israelites to liberate the gold trinkets of their former masters. The maistor of rhetoric at Constantinople also superintended mathematical instruction. The religious curriculum was heavily based on a fundamentum of biblical exegesis, with separate professors of the Gospels, the apostle, and the Psalms. The liturgical rationale for this is immediately obvious—but it is also interesting to note how the first concrete example of a medieval Orthodox cathedral school, as it were, took the decision to base itself in all things on Bible first. Saint Gregory the Theologian, preferring a more elegant, less crude, image than Basil’s “smash and grab” typology, redefined what he saw as this process of creating a theory of paideia to determine the church’s relation to Hellenic culture, and elevated as an alternative the following lovely image (a rose grower himself, he nonetheless took it from Sappho): “Take the roses but clip the thorns.” Monastic Orthodox scholars generally liked Basil’s way. Intellectual Byzantine Orthodox preferred Gregory’s more cultured openness. By the eleventh century the rival scholars were fighting on the streets of Constantinople, and in 1084, the learned Saint John Mavropous had to impose order by liturgically imposing on the schools the common cele-

Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition


bration of the Feast of the Three Hierarchs to stop intercollegiate bloodshed. It is not by accident that the Icon of the Three Hierarchs generally places Saint Chrysostom in the middle. He is pacifically keeping the other two safely apart! Even in their own lifetimes, there were tensions between the two fathers. When Basil sets out his program for ascetic intellectual training in several early letters sent from Annesos to Nazianzus, Gregory replies by mildly making fun of rooms in the establishment named “Think-Room” and “Eat-House,” raising an eyebrow in his replies that the head of the house (Basil himself ) apparently expected everyone to go out regularly in the field to plant turnips. Gregory’s idea of the intellectual life did not include manual labor. He had too many pages of Sappho to comment on before he had any space for that. Even if we no longer come to blows over the issue, like our medieval predecessors, Orthodox styles of higher learning and studiousness still bear the divide of these two iconic variant approaches, the Basilian and the Gregorian.


In the recent history of the story of Greek immigration to the United States, we see clear vestiges of the Basilian approach and the Byzantine separation of theology from other curricula.13 When Greek Orthodox Christians came to America in significant numbers with the early twentieth-century immigrants, they continued the long-standing practice of the village communities under Ottoman Turkokratia, and tried to organize local (parish) schools wherever possible. The Greek village schoolteacher features in many (later) novels of the period of the Greek Revolutionary era, as one of the custodians of Hellenic values. The schoolmaster’s role was specifically to teach letters, while the priest conducted religious education in the church. Religion teaching outside the church, of course, was a forbidden activity and a dangerous one. Both Roman Catholic and Protestant iterations of Christianity in the Americas were striving for dominance on the religious educational scene, and neither was regarded by the Orthodox as a safe pair of hands for the


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religious education of their children. When the Greek communities settled in America, the establishment of local parochial schools was a priority attended to carefully. They inhabited the church buildings, chiefly the parish hall where this existed, long before any attempt was made to establish a separate institution, and they were overwhelmingly concerned with the early stages of education. These immigrants were poor and raised penny schools, just as the Irish Catholics did: but unlike with the Irish, these schools were tied to a sense of church and parish far more tightly than their Catholic counterparts. The Greek parochial schools often struggled, as did the parishes themselves, with very limited economic resources, resources that in the end attracted dedicated, but often limited ranges of teachers, who were more often than not wholly subservient to the direction of the local parish priest. In contrast, Roman Catholicism in America could lean on the resources of an international array of skilled teaching orders, of religious men and women who offered their skilled services to the church at nominal cost. This workforce, often highly qualified, covered all educational levels from infants to university. The Greek parish schools, on the other hand, centered more on the goal of instilling young Greek Americans with a sense of their ancestral heritage as Christian Hellenes. The curriculum was partly religious, with the priest again taking the leading role, but often dominated by specifically Greek cultural values (the glories of past letters, the golden age of Greek philosophy, and the noble tales of enduring Christian Romaiosyne), with Greek language regarded as the cornerstone of all things. In Orthodox religious minds (mainly the higher clergy who reviewed this scenario in the previous century) the catechetical tasks facing the young were sometimes presumed to be covered well enough by traditional village methods of the past ages: the liturgy would provide a context of understanding the faith, and the icons could serve as illustrations of the chief aspects of the Christian story. In lieu of any urgently perceived need for a more rigidly developed curriculum across a decade or so of a child’s educational life, many Greek American families preferred, in a sense, to allow the local public schools to provide the basics of education, feeling that the necessary supplementals (Orthodox history and doctrine and Hellenic achievements) could be adequately provided by some supplemental education by the church and

Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition


parish priest. This was the strength of the system (in that it was deeply local and profoundly related to the spiritual aspirations of Orthodoxy) and yet also its fatal weakness (in that it had no room to grow and little conception of where it might grow to). Unlike the Catholic immigrants, anxious from early days for a separate and parallel educational system that would mark off their whole educational ethos from the Protestant majority in the United States, the Orthodox did not bring such old binaries from Ireland into play in the Americas; and this affected their interest (or rather lack of it) in establishing a separate system of higher educational establishments that were identifiably “Orthodox” in their global ethos. There was no such system, really, until the establishment in 1968 of Hellenic College, the undergraduate college adjacent to the seminary, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. In recent years a growing sense of need for more Orthodox educational establishments (with different ranges and excellences but largely focused on undergraduate education and now in a very conservative context of “religious values under threat in a secularized world”) has been noticeable. Initial notices suggest that these new Orthodox academies, struggling as they already are with the financial problems concomitant on such enterprises, may have come too late to the scene. Additionally, their vision of Orthodoxy as an archconservative force in educational philosophy may challenge their ability to attract a necessary quorum of support. The overwhelmingly great majority of Orthodox scholars working in university-level education are to be found in non-Orthodox schools. In some senses, this presumption that this country’s system of education will suffice, except for places where it needs supplementing (especially in religious catechesis in a liturgical context), can be seen as a continuation of the Byzantine practice (post–ninth century) of forbidding theology to be placed in the university curriculum anyway.


The Great Patriarchal School at Constantinople fell into steep decline all too soon. The precipitous loss of territories from the Christian empire of


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the East, after the disasters in the eleventh century beginning with the defeat at Manzikert, dwindled Byzantium like a piece of phosphorus fizzing away in water. The reverses were unstoppable. The long twilight of the Byzantine world allowed many a partial renaissance (such as the Palaeologan revival in the thirteenth century), but the decline was felt all over the Orthodox cosmos. Schools, libraries, and professorial chairs are the very first to suffer in a hostile economic climate (as European universities are now being reminded and as American religion schools are also testifying). And so it was that by the end of Byzantium, and the entrance of Orthodoxy into long twilight years of resistance modality, the pattern had already been set—that of a strong separation of religion from the general curriculum and a preference for liturgical, canonical, and hagiographic studies over most else. When the Bible and the fathers were studied, they were, in a real sense, subordinated to become fodder for sermons; so had the arts of preaching the biblical kerygma of the faith dwindled too. It was this long slow slope of educational decline in Late Byzantium (yes, illumined by some lightning flashes too—such as Mohyla’s Academy at Kiev and the efforts of other learned hierarchs trying to stop the slippage they saw) that provided the immediate background for the late modern rise of the Orthodox academy in Russia, and then, in the nineteenth century, in newly liberated Greece.14 Ascendant Ottoman Islam more or less ruled out the appearance of this in so many other Orthodox regions, except in the form of quietly enduring local monastic schools, although the example of the Armenians at Jerusalem and Venice is a heroic one.15 The examples of Russia between Peter the Great and Tsar Nicholas II and of the academy in Athens established a trend, a certain preference, for schools to be rebuilt along the European model; but by that the builders largely meant European Protestant in preference over Catholic, which might have offered them a more fertile cultural example (if they had been able to get over their initial hostility caused by frictions along the fault line of Balkan proselytization). The Athens Faculty of Theology today is astonishingly Germanic in ways that even modern German religious academies are not. Thessaloniki has chosen to base itself in its religious provision more neutrally in historical and textual studies, and has rapidly developed an international reputation in these things. Athens, mean-

Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition


while, remains, so it seems to me anyway, primarily a renovated (yet paradoxically de-monasticized) form of the old monastic school model, largely focused inwardly and, if not simply producing clergy, producing a lay theological movement of a deeply clerical type. The Romanian, Serbian, Russian, Bulgarian, and other Orthodox schools are making rapid strides. But the sound of the hammer rebuilding the very fabric, and the massive demands of gathering in funds to secure libraries and teachers, mean that while these places are alive with energy, they cannot yet stand in that necessary broad space to offer a reflection of wider import, perhaps because the pressing demands to reassert themselves and meet the massive social needs of their newly emerging churches occupy the forefront of their efforts. The Russian, Romanian, and Serbian schools, nevertheless, will be powerhouses by the end of this century, if God gives them the space to avoid further totalitarian oppression and occlusion. But for English-language and more ecumenically engaged matters, our attention rightly falls on the American Orthodox academy and that of the Greeks of the Southern Hemisphere. It is here that answers must emerge. This is the “New Empire,” sociologically and financially speaking. If we first-world Orthodox raise pleas of poverty, our family members in other lands will surely smile; tolerantly, one hopes. All is relative; but after one has lectured in an East European Orthodox school, and had the whole class move at dictation speed since there were no books in the library and no copying machines for producing handouts—one gets the point. America-Australia is the zone that needs to facilitate the discussion, nudge it, generally aid it, take the lead, not force a direction, but certainly call those most involved towards a deeper reflection on the pressing needs for the next century of Orthodox life. A century. Such a small space of time for an ancient historian. Yet what a critical century it will be for the Orthodox world; important in its own way for higher education in our church as maybe no other has ever been since the fall of Constantinople. A century is laughably small; but, like a lifetime, like that kairos of which the Bible speaks—that time of grace and opportunity—time can pass easily enough. We can be wrapped in other concerns, given over to pressing tasks of building up our own yard, refurbishing our needy fabrics, and not have the space for standing back to think of such important pan-Orthodox issues as the formation of


John A. McGuckin

whole-cloth plans for higher-level Orthodox education in a radically changing world. Times pass quickly and opportunities can just as quickly be lost in that passing. It is hard to get anyone excited by the idea of Orthodox higher education unless they have in their hearts that mystical confluence of love and illumination (the very confluence that excites most mothers and fathers about the education of their children in elementary school). To seize that excitement and seize upon it in the Orthodox world today is hard work. It is preaching to a small choir. It is, nonetheless, one of the most important charges that have been given to our own generation of the church; and historians of Orthodoxy in the future will look back on us, back on this present volume also in which this preliminary essay stands, and will surely make judgments. At the end of the matter it comes down to something immensely important, something that was our initial starting point—the issue of our faithfulness to the evangelical kerygma. For being faithful to our educational mission means that we see the pressing need today to tell the church’s story afresh, tell it truly and energetically, tell it so that its living truth penetrates the surface sophistication of a highly literate contemporary audience, but one (sad to say) perhaps unmatched in its illiteracy regarding religion. We do not need to worry about whether the message is relevant, or whether it still carries any power. These are the “things of the Spirit” that the Lord takes care of himself. We just have to tell the story faithfully and wisely. Then the Orthodox will shine again, not just as the “world’s best-kept secret,” and not as liturgically exotic blooms, but rather as the world’s well of clean water. We need the passion of faith to tell the story energetically and prophetically, but we so very much need a lively domain of Orthodox higher education to be able to nurture storytellers who can recite the tale skillfully, evangelically, convincingly, and in ways that truly advance the church’s kerygmatic mission, its Great Commission.

NOTES 1. Men were trained in literary tasks solely if they were from the economic elite and destined for a career—defending their family’s interests—in politics.

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Thus rhetoric was the core of all ancient paideia, and remained so, unchanged in Christian educational theory, until the high Middle Ages. In Greek, pre-Christian culture, a number of educated slaves would also serve as basic-level educators (some of them, but very few, rose to eminence as thinkers when they achieved free status; one recalls the important philosopher and ex-slave Epictetus). But the norm was a few men of the elite classes. The vast majority dispensed with the need for literacy. As for women, only those who could command education by virtue of personal riches could hope to access a literary education. Some of the daughters of a rich household might avail themselves of the services of the tutors brought in for the family’s sons, and we have some evidence to show a few elite women philosophers and poets. Hypatia the great Neoplatonic philosopher of Alexandria was one such example (murdered by an enraged Christian mob in the fifth century). Christianity has some claim to advancing the cause of women’s literary education because of the extent to which women monastics needed literacy to serve the offices of prayer. From the third century we have evidence that Christian schools (Origen’s at Alexandria) employed Christian female stenographers, and from the fourth century more evidence that Christian women commissioned texts to be composed for their use (the community of Syrian nuns who employed Ephrem the Syrian to write hymns, for example). But, all told, the ancient world, like many societies across the globe still today, was massively illiterate. Further, see W. V. Harris, Ancient Literacy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989). 2. One easily thinks of the movie industry, as well as neo mythic narrative tales—new mythologies being created such as the Harry Potter phenomenon, the macro mythological narrative of a self-subsisting set of parallel universes (string theory) sustained by many serious cosmologists who do not realize they have transmuted into mythopoeic philosophers, etc. 3. For Gregory’s ideas on literature, see his poem “On His Own Verses,” Carmina 2.1.39 (PG 37:1329–36). Gregory conceived the relation of the church to the cultural aspirations of civilization as something integral. Not only did he define theology as “akin to poetry” (in his Orations 27–31), but he extensively argued that the poetic task is given to all educated leaders of the church as an inspiration of the Spirit, which marks out who has the mental diakrisis (we might render that “discernment” or “discretion”) which fits them to lead, or shows them as unfit to judge. Further, see J. A. McGuckin, “Gregory: The Rhetorician as Poet,” in Gregory of Nazianzus: Images and Reflections, ed. J. Bortnes and T. Hagg (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculaneum Press, 2006), 193–212. 4. Further on deification theology, see J. A. McGuckin, “Deification in Greek Patristic Thought: The Cappadocian Fathers’ Strategic Adaptation of a Tradition,” in Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of


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Deification in the Christian Tradition, ed. M. Christensen and J. Wittung (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2006), 95–114; also V. Kharlamov, ed., Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011); for further reflections on nous in Christian anthropology, see J. A. McGuckin, “The Shaping of the Soul’s Perceptions in the Byzantine Ascetic Elias Ekdikos,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 55, no. 3 (2011): 343–63. 5. The point was fought for in antiquity by Origen in his De principiis, by Saint Gregory Thaumaturgos in his “Address of Thanksgiving,” by Apollinaris the Elder in his rendering of the scriptures into classical meters (now lost), by Saint Gregory of Nazianzen in his extensive corpus of poetry and in Oration 27, by Saint Basil in his “Treatise to Young People,” by Saint Gregory of Nyssa in his “Catechetical Oration.” The correlation of true piety and wisdom (what Saint Gregory the Theologian called “clipping the thorns” of Hellenism’s roses) was so established among the Byzantines, even by the monastics, that it would have hardly been challenged. Saint Theodore the Studite established the practice of copying manuscripts (including numerous pagan literary and philosophical treatises) as the standard labor of monks prescribed in his Typikon; and the library of secular as well as religious texts in the collection of Saint Photios is demonstrative of this basic attitude. Only in times of civic collapse, after the Turkokratia especially, has the alienation from book culture sometimes been elevated as a religious value by some sections of Orthodoxy. Nevertheless, whenever it has its life and freedom, Orthodoxy generally shows its immediate desire to establish centers of cultural learning. The energetic rebuilding of libraries and schools currently apace in Russia and Romania is eloquent testimony to that. 6. “On His Own Verses,” Carmina 2.1.39 (PG 37:1329–36). 7. The argument was notoriously set out by S. P. Huntington in “The Clash of Civilizations?,” in Foreign Affairs 72, no. 3 (Summer 1993): 22–49, and further elaborated in his book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996). 8. Further, see J. A. McGuckin, The Ascent of Christian Law (New York: SVS Press, 2011). 9. Further, see H. Marrou, A History of Education in Antiquity (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1956); also A. Kazhdan, “Education,” in The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, ed. Kazhdan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 677–78. 10. Further, see Despina Stratoudaki White, Patriarch Photius of Constantinople: His Life, Scholarly Contributions, and Correspondence, Together with a Translation of Fifty-Two of His Letters (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Press, 1982). 11. Further, see J. A. McGuckin, “Caesarea Maritima as Origen Knew It,” in Origeniana Quinta, ed. R. J. Daly (Leuven: Brill, 1992), 3–25.

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12. The universities at Constantinople and Thessaloniki continued the Roman quadrivium, and Byzantine literature and legal, as well as philosophical, life continued to run on in manners parallel with antique paideia. Some of the achievements of Byzantine philosophy are significant. Its legal contribution to world civilization is undeniable. The often-repeated criticism that all intellectual life in Byzantium was stagnant after the fifth century cannot be sustained by the evidence, but it was certainly an intellectual life that saw itself as variations on a classical theme, and there can be no doubt that theological studies froze to a torpid state around the time of Saint John Damascene in the eighth century. Further, see E. Jeffreys, The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 827–906 (articles on Byzantine literature, hagiography, and theology by E. Jeffreys, A. Louth, and A. M. Talbot). 13. The Russian church under the Tsars has a longer established tradition of lay theologians, who were able to take over the establishment of several higher schools of learning, outside Russia, after the collapse of the Russian church’s independence in 1917. 14. Further, see J. Skedros, “Greece: Orthodox Church of,” in The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, ed. J. A. McGuckin (Oxford: WileyBlackwell, 2010), 269–79. 15. Further, see J. A. McGuckin, “Armenian Christianity,” in The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, 46–51.



W I S D OM AN D E D U CA T ION An Old Testament Perspective

M ichAel c. l egAsPi

Someone interested in the state of higher education today might be forgiven for thinking that the Bible has only limited relevance, if any, to the topic. The modern university, after all, left behind its confessional heritage several centuries ago. Today it faces a formidable array of problems that seem unique to our time—challenges having to do with global economics and questions of distributive justice; the transformative power of digital technology in governance, commerce, and culture; thorny ethical questions arising from various types of scientific research. And so on. It is difficult to see, from this perspective, how an old, traditional book might help solve our most urgent problems. Skepticism toward the Bible, given modern academic culture, is certainly understandable. Yet if Christian scholars are to play constructive roles in higher education, then they must defeat, in both appearance and reality, the charge that the Bible has little or nothing to contribute to the ways that we pursue scholarship, research, and teaching at the university. Defeating the charge will not be easy, but one promising approach is the recovery of a concept at once central to the 80

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theological tradition and, by all accounts, still badly needed today: wisdom. Given the prominence of wisdom in Orthodox theological reflection, it serves as a natural point of contact between Orthodoxy and the modern educational enterprise.1 In what follows, I will examine several aspects of wisdom in the Bible. The point here is not to provide a comprehensive overview of the subject but to offer, instead, a brief, schematic discussion of wisdom in the Old Testament. My hope is that such a discussion will yield a deeper appreciation of the manner in which the scriptures might frame and motivate the pursuit of knowledge within the context of the university.


Wisdom is a formal concept and not, strictly speaking, a substantive one. Thus it is possible to speak, as scripture does, of multiple “wisdoms”: the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22), the wisdom of the Babylonians (“the people of the east”; 1 Kings 4:30), the wisdom of the Edomites (Jer. 49:7), the wisdom of this world (1 Cor. 1:20), fleshly wisdom (2 Cor. 1:12), the wisdom that comes from above and the wisdom that does not come from above (James 3:15–17), and so on. It is clear from this list that each wisdom, which differs in content from other wisdoms, may nevertheless be described, in biblical language, as a wisdom. So, in formal terms, what is a wisdom? Wisdom is an attempt to coordinate realms of human concern conceptually, verbally, and practically—not so much to produce a theory of life as a program for life. Wisdom orders life pragmatically. And it does so principally by organizing four realms of concern: (1) the metaphysical (what pertains to human knowledge of ultimate reality); (2) the cosmic (what pertains to human involvement in the world); (3) the public (what pertains to culture, society, and government); and (4) the personal (what pertains to the individual). The task of wisdom is both to specify the content of these categories and to coordinate them in a coherent way. This holistic, highly ordered conception of wisdom corresponds, I think, to the form of life envisioned and enacted in the Divine Liturgy—where heaven and earth are joined, and the faithful are gathered to join all of creation in extolling and communing with God.2


Michael C. Legaspi

First of all, there is a wisdom of the metaphysical realm. According to what is perhaps Israel’s central wisdom text, the book of Proverbs, wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (Prov. 9:10; cf. 1:7). What sets biblical wisdom apart from other wisdoms is the recognition, above all, that Israel’s God—and he alone—is worthy of human loyalty and worship. As Creator and Judge of the world, the Lord is entirely without peer or equal. This supremacy includes complete mastery of all creatures and elements within the natural world, but it extends, importantly, to all who are thought to rule, supervene, or influence the human and natural worlds: principalities, powers, and rulers (Eph. 6:12). He is the God of gods (Deut. 10:17), the One before whom no other god can stand. This claim is so fundamental to scripture and the entirety of Christian theology that its significance can be easy to overlook. Yet it is the first principle of wisdom, its “beginning” (Gk. archē; Heb. re’shit), because it has several important implications for the effort to live wisely, to bring disparate realms of concern into fruitful, life-giving harmony. The Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, so crucial to Orthodox understanding, begins with the confession that God is one. To confess belief “in one God” is to affirm the supremacy of the God revealed in scripture. It is to claim that God’s will is sovereign and his judgments unimpeachable. In claiming this, creedal monotheism contravenes other metaphysical claims, specifically the idea that there is no single, overarching authority to adjudicate competing claims about what is real, ultimate, and good. Polytheistic founding myths, whether Greek, Babylonian, or Egyptian, are, for this reason, essentially theomachic. In polytheistic understandings of the world, the basic reality behind and beneath the creation is violent struggle. Creation is a process, above all, of creation by destruction, in which conflicts of divine interest yield zero-sum political arrangements (the primacy of ancient Babylon or Memphis, for example) and no-win existential conditions (in which even the gods are subject to the Fates). Polytheism, however, does not only underwrite ancient mythology; it is also characteristic of modern philosophy. Commenting on empiricism, Max Weber notes that if one bases his philosophy merely on what he observes in the world, he arrives at “polytheism.” That is, experience shows that humans are loyal to an array of apparently incommensurable goals, principles, and ideals. Human agreement on ultimate things

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seems to be practically impossible because human interests appear to be fundamentally incompatible. Conflict is inevitable, and we must content ourselves with the observation that “conflict rages between different gods and it will go on for all time.”3 Others, though, regard the polytheistic stance as liberative. Without a final metaphysical reality to specify the true aim of human life, humans are left with a “radical pluralism” of values. In this arrangement, individuals are encouraged to realize their own authenticity and so to enjoy forms of life unique to themselves—in short, to take as their purpose nothing more nor less than the attainment of selfparticular kinds of happiness.4 This kind of individualism, one predicated on an irreconcilable plurality of values governing human life, jars with the biblical view. According to Christian teaching, the metaphysical realm is neither vacant, nor populated by rival gods, nor divided among a variety of ultimate values or principles. It is rather inhabited by one God who governs all. The creation story in Genesis (1:1–2:4) certainly makes this point, but it also teaches other things about divine authority, which bear on the topic of wisdom. The story unfolds in a didactic, disciplined, and almost austere fashion. It teaches that the created order is, above all, rational. There is a single voice and a single creative will throughout the account, one Maker following a premeditated sequence and order: first of light, space, and land on three successive, enumerated days; then, on a second, closely correlated triad of days, of luminaries that govern time, animals that inhabit specific domains, and plants that reliably reproduce their own kinds. It is, in short, a harmonious and well-organized world. Though complex, the order is not baroque; though multifaceted, it is nevertheless a uni-verse. The writer describes a world that is amenable to the ordering processes of reason. God’s creative activity follows a structure; it consists, to a significant degree, in separating (1:4, 6, 7, 14, 18) naming (1:5, 8, 10), and assigning functions to things (1:6, 11, 14, 15, 20, 24, 26, 29, 30). One of the most salient features of the account is the prominence of divine fiat, the use of speech to call things into being. Created things are one with their names such that there is no gap between sign and signified, no room for worry about the indeterminacy and arbitrariness of language, and no lingering Platonic fear of ontological diminishment. Structure and language enable and invite a derivative sort of human intellection; for


Michael C. Legaspi

humans, too, can bring order to what is disorganized and language to what goes unnamed. The world, created by one God, is teleologically definite.


Wisdom also has to do with the cosmic realm. The created order is not only rational; it is also hospitable. It is a safe environment for life. In ordering the world, God established supremacy over forces hostile to life. At God’s command, watery chaos and a dark formless void (Gen. 1:2) give way to the divine wind and to the preternatural light of the one day (1:5). The dragons (tanninim) that menace civilization in Babylonian myths and other portions of the Bible appear in Genesis as normal sea creatures (1:21).5 Plants, animals, land formations, oceans, and celestial bodies are all assigned suitable domains. In Genesis 1, the “war” against chaos is not bloody and heroic but rather bloodless and prosaic. The result of these efforts is an ordered cosmos capable of sustaining a variety of creatures and life forms. This is the judgment, I believe, that is captured by the repeated pronouncement of God that various aspects of creation are “good” (tov): the separation of land and sea (1:10); trees and plants that reproduce their own kind (1:12); the establishment of a greater light (sun) and lesser light (moon) to govern day and night (1:18); fish and birds that multiply in kind (1:21); land animals that reproduce in kind (1:25); the whole divine order seen in toto (1:31). All is characterized by a certain fittingness of relation, location, and reproduction. There is no struggle for life, as creatures feed exclusively on fruits and vegetables (1:29–30). The cosmic environment that plays host to life is peaceful, well appointed, and attractive. This is not quite to say that the world is, in a strict sense, beautiful, for the idea of beauty seems to stand outside the conceptual purview, or perhaps the literary discipline of the account. The creation as we have it in Genesis 1:1–2:4a is certainly made to seem appealing, but its appeal is based on its chaste and harmonious workings and not on added adornments or ravishing qualities. The creation is appealing because it weds form and function in an admirable way. As such, it is a fitting object for human affection and loyalty. To understand the creation in its essence as the work of a masterful God intent

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on the flourishing of creatures he has freely chosen to create is to see the world in profoundly moral terms. As God says repeatedly, the world functioning as it should is “good” (tov). It is worthy of human loyalty, not only in its admirable design but also in its fundamentally gratuitous character. The divine choice to create is not explained, but the fact that the choice was freely made is conveyed by the deliberate, irresistible character of God’s creative will throughout the account. The cosmos fulfills no divine need; the will to create corresponds to no situation external to God’s own counsel. The Genesis account intensifies the mystery of being, stressing its gratuity while veiling its basis in divine motive. In this way, it presents creation to the reader as something good and freely given and, at the same time, as rooted in a divine purpose not fully intelligible to humans. This raises the stakes in God’s relation to the cosmos. In this arrangement, loyalty to a biblical vision of the creation becomes a question not only of one’s affections but also of faith that being in a world of God’s making is, in a deep sense, preferable to nonbeing. It is to choose life and abhor death (Deut. 30:19) and to confess that God is God not of the dead but of the living (Matt. 22:32). The moment one ceases to see the cosmic order as good, its gratuity demands that it be seen as cruel and arbitrary. This is precisely the possibility raised by the book of Job. Best read in dialogue with the book of Proverbs, the book of Job shows that there is a deeper reality underlying the cosmos than mere regularity. Though ordered and rational, it cannot be reduced to system. Its goodness is not mechanical or intrinsic but dependent upon the will and character of God. In Proverbs (as in Genesis), we are given a picture of a well-ordered cosmos with carefully constructed foundations, bounded oceans, and harmonious habitats (Prov. 8). Lady Wisdom herself superintends the creation and takes delight in it. When she admonishes the simple throughout the book’s opening discourses (chs. 1–9), her exhortations to embrace chastity and honesty suggest that righteousness is not simply a personal or social virtue but a cosmic one as well, a way of being that is in tune with the universe itself. It is no surprise, then, that in Proverbs righteousness is linked in strong terms to flourishing in the world: to prosperity, honor, peace, and long life. Wickedness, by contrast, leads to poverty, shame, strife, and disaster. Thus, righteousness directed toward God (piety) accords with a universe conceived in wisdom, such that it yields an integrated life of peace and blessing. In the book of Job, however, the


Michael C. Legaspi

order appears to break down. There we witness the affliction of an incontrovertibly pious man. Job, who is righteous, undergoes the fate of the wicked. Job (Heb. ’iyyov) insists that, in spite of his piety, he has become an enemy (Heb. ’oyev) to God, the victim of his assaults and arrows (Job 13:24). Despite vigorous efforts, Job’s friends fail to persuade him to number himself among the transgressors, repent of sin, and resume a blessed, pious life. Job, eager to maintain his integrity ( Job 27:5), refuses to confess sins he did not commit. He holds his ground as a righteous sufferer and, in so doing, becomes a stubborn and difficult fact that confounds the friends’ mechanical understanding of cosmic order. The existence of a righteous sufferer is a rebuke to their retributive theology. Job’s wisdom consists largely in the intuition that the order, though real, is not impersonal. Piety, though rationally consistent with the world, is nevertheless rooted not in the world as such but in the inscrutable goodness of the One who made the world. When the Lord appears to Job at the end of the book and speaks to him from the whirlwind, he makes precisely this point. The speeches begin with the foundations of the earth and various meteorological phenomena before moving on to picturesque vignettes of various wild animals. They build to a climax in chapters 40 and 41, when God questions Job about two creatures in particular: Behemoth and Leviathan. The point of these latter descriptions is the utter wildness and untamability of these beings. No one can lead Leviathan around with a hook, soothe him with words, or even approach him: “None is so fierce as to dare stir it up” (41:10). His scales are impenetrable and his flesh as hard as stone; swords, spears, and arrows fall upon him like straw and rotten wood. He sneezes lightning and spits fire. In the whirlwind speeches, Leviathan is pure menace, the undisputed “king over all that are proud” (41:34).6 This redescription of the Leviathan accords with the rest of the whirlwind speeches: the order that appears elsewhere in the Bible to be peaceful and domestic becomes here utterly inhospitable to man, strange both to human reckoning and to human projects. The rain is diverted to the wilderness, where no man is ( Job 38:26). Snow and hail are set aside to visit the earth in the “time of trouble, the day of battle and war” (38:23), and ice locks away needed water (38:30). Celestial bodies move in accountable patterns, and storms alternate with droughts so that the “dust

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runs into a mass and the clods cling together” (38:38). Young lions and goats feed and procreate in unmanageable ways, while the wild ass and wild ox pay no heed to the multitudes in the city. The ostrich and the wild horse mock human attempts to understand and control them. The great birds are no use to man. The hawk and the eagle live far away in the mountains. Some even feed on human blood; as 39:30 says, where the slain are, there, also, is the vulture. The point of all this is not, in some simple way, to counter, oppose, or challenge the domestic descriptions of order that we have in Genesis and Proverbs. It is rather to bring forward and accentuate a specific aspect of those descriptions. The whirlwind speeches do not give us an incomprehensible, disordered, anarchic chaos; they, too, affirm that the world is a cosmos, but a cosmos of a very particular type. They describe a world in which the fear of God is very much in order—not a naked fear for one’s well-being in the midst of a cold, hostile universe but rather a recognition that the wider world can be a cosmos only by virtue of God’s gracious activity. That is, it is a cosmos if God continues to renew his victory over chaos.7 The whirlwind speeches suggest, then, that the world is not a world for the taking: an inert reality that is simply there, a repository of materials infinitely amenable to human redescription and manipulation. The world is a connected order of discrete things that God must perpetually give to man. Man does not simply live in the world; he receives it. The whirlwind speeches are written as a series of questions that lead the reader to a certain conclusion: the world is not a neutral collection of matter but a dynamic world of creatures, and, apart from God, man has no good prospects within it. Man is not his own maker: he does not create or re-create the world by representing it conceptually or by controlling it scientifically. He is not, as modern liberalism suggests, powerful enough to pay his own way through knowledge and hard work, through scientific research and central planning. In the end, man’s relation to the world is not technocratic but eucharistic.8


Third, there is a wisdom of the social or public realm. Wisdom in the Old Testament is connected with kingship. The figure of Solomon presides


Michael C. Legaspi

over the biblical wisdom tradition, not only because of his legendary reputation as the wisest of men (1 Kgs. 4:31) but also because of his status as a great king. According to Proverbs 1:1, the proverbs belong to Solomon as Solomon, that is, to him as “son of David,” but they also belong to Solomon as “king of Israel.” Other kings are also memorialized as sources of wisdom: King Lemuel of Massa (31:1) and King Hezekiah, who commissioned collections of Solomon’s royal wisdom (25:1). Kings are in a particularly good position to understand what is at stake in the attainment and exercise of wisdom. As it is in Genesis 2–3, wisdom in Proverbs is a form of ruling knowledge. If wisdom is necessary to people as bearers of the divine image, then it belongs a fortiori to kings who must rule over others. The royal situation, in other words, is the human situation writ large. Kingly rule—ordered toward justice, equity, and protection of the weak—yields stability for the whole land (e.g., Prov. 29:4; 31:1–9); unwise and unjust rule destabilizes “the foundations of the earth” (Ps. 82:5). Analogously, the life of the wise individual is stable, peaceful, and prosperous, while the life of the foolish person is short, troubled, and poor. Like royal rule, which must be constantly maintained, wise self-rule must extend over an entire lifetime. Wisdom, in this sense, is not a once-for-all achievement but a path for all to follow at all times. The opening verses of Proverbs thus address both the “simple” (1:4) and the “wise man” (1:5) equally. Wisdom is acquired by the simple, but, once acquired, it must be continually supplemented: “Let the wise man hear [Heb. yishma‘ ] and add . . .” (1:5). As such, wisdom has a kind of existential urgency, much as it did in the garden of Eden. To “hear” (Heb. shama‘ ) is not merely to register sound but to “hearken to,” to “obey.” In facing the moral demands of wisdom, the simple must decide whether to hearken to it, but the wise man, too, must choose obedience. He is under constant obligation to respond to wisdom obediently or risk relapse into folly. As noted above, wisdom is tied to language. The “proverb” (Heb. mashal; plural meshalim) is a kind of verbal art form; it is also the wisdom form par excellence. In a penetrating discussion of the “wisdom mentality” of the sages, James Kugel argues persuasively that the acquisition and contemplation of meshalim are central to wisdom in the Bible. The mashal is a small, discrete composition: “[It] is essentially an independent

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insight, a great general rule about the way the world works, packaged in a two-part sentence [A juxtaposed with B]. It stands on its own, a oneline poem, and invites our contemplation.”9 As pithy and sometimes puzzling encapsulations, meshalim do not merely bear wisdom; they are wisdom. The form was so pervasive in the wisdom writings that, as Kugel says concisely, “wisdom meant the mashal.”10 The opening lines of Proverbs draw attention to this fact. Note that one of the marks of increased wisdom is greater competence in wisdom words. In 1:2 the simple are promised the ability to “understand words of insight” while the wise, in 1:6, stand to gain greater insight into the stuff of wisdom: proverbs, figures, words, and riddles. In this way the wisdom of Proverbs reflects the same linguistic particularity and confidence in language evident in the opening chapters of Genesis. But the dominance of the mashal underscores another important characteristic of wisdom in the Bible. Wisdom is thoroughly traditional, something which is handed down from generation to generation. Orthodoxy is characterized, similarly, by a high regard for tradition. In Orthodoxy, this derives from the conviction that the church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has received truths that must be handed on to the next generation (1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6). The sages of the Old Testament also understood wisdom as something granted by God (Prov. 2:6), received by the pious, and transmitted to others. As wisdom is tied to discrete insights, growth in wisdom is identified with the accumulation of meshalim. The more proverbs one acquired, the wiser he or she was.11 Sages, then, are stewards of these accumulated insights and keepers of these bits of knowledge—moral, social, political, and religious—which they collect and pass on to their students. The point of wisdom is to preserve and extend a defined body of knowledge about the way the world in all its aspects is governed. This task is cultural: to convey truth, preserve it in a stable form, and hand it down. In this way, wisdom coincides to a great degree with what Kugel calls an “anthological temper” of mind. The sage collects, gathers, and builds. Though insightful, he is not a genius; though authoritative, he is not a guru. As Kugel points out, the notion of an anthology such as we find in the book of Proverbs presupposes some principle or set of principles that determine what is collected and what is excluded.12 In Proverbs, the


Michael C. Legaspi

foundational principle, as we have pointed out, is piety or obedience, what biblical writers called the “fear of the Lord.” But the final principle of wisdom is life, specifically the preservation of life. As Paul Tarazi has put it, “Wisdom’s field of interest is the preservation of the flow of human life and of life on earth.”13 Thus one finds in Proverbs numerous connections between, on the one hand, wisdom and its many cognates— knowledge, discretion, uprightness, as well as words, commandments, and teachings—and, on the other hand, length of days, flourishing, and tranquil old age. Stated succinctly, whoever attains wisdom finds life (Prov. 4:22; 8:35). Wisdom is identified with a “tree of life” (3:18) and a “fountain of life” (13:14), and its opposite, folly, is tied repeatedly throughout the book of Proverbs to the death, destruction, perishing, and disappearance of life. The biblical quest for wisdom, though, is not an alchemical quest for the philosophers’ stone or the elixir of life. Wisdom preserves life in its essential and God-given character; it is not a technological extension of life subject to human judgment. To live according to wisdom is to heed intelligently that body of knowledge that experience has shown to be a reliable guide to human flourishing. Wisdom was gathered by sages in service of the community. In its public aspect, wisdom was identified with a peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous community characterized by filial piety, honest dealing, chastity, hard work, and special care for the poor and disadvantaged (Prov. 1–9; see especially 8:1–21). Nevertheless, in the Old Testament, the clearest distillation of this wisdom was to be found not in sayings or proverbs but rather in the law (torah) of Moses. Though utterly supreme in his power over the whole world, God established a unique relationship with a particular people. In choosing Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, rescuing their descendants from Egypt, and giving them his law at Sinai, God formed Israel into a people “possessed” in a unique way by him (Heb. wihyitem li segullah mikkol-ha‘ammim; Exod. 19:5). The God of creation became, in time, the God of Jacob and the Holy One of Israel, and the law the definitive expression of his will. It should be noted here that God’s covenant with Israel took two forms in the Old Testament, one associated with the theophany at Sinai (the Mosaic or Sinaitic covenant) and one associated with David and his city, Jerusalem (the Davidic covenant). As the book of Exodus makes

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clear, the Sinai covenant was instituted after the Lord’s victory over Pharaoh and the Israelite exodus from Egypt. After crossing the sea on dry land, the Israelites journeyed to Mount Sinai and encamped. There they received, through Moses, the Ten Commandments and a full range of laws intended to order the life of Israelites and set them apart from all other peoples. Many of these laws (Exod. 25–40) were concerned with the construction of the tabernacle, a portable, sacred tent in which God would take up residence among the Israelites and, through the mediation of prophetic figures like Moses and priestly ones like Aaron, rule over the Israelites. The Davidic covenant parallels the Sinaitic covenant. It too followed on a military victory, the victory of David over the house of Saul and the Canaanites (2 Sam. 3–5). The key acquisition in the latter struggle was the fortified hill known as Zion (2 Sam. 5:6–10). David built his royal capital on the mountain of Zion; shortly thereafter he transferred the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem as well. Thus, Mount Zion became, in its own right, a sacred mountain, at once Jerusalem, the City of David, and the city of God (Ps. 48). According to a covenant established with David and his descendants (2 Sam. 7; Ps. 89), the Lord would rule over the Israelites by upholding the just rule of the Davidic line, the peace and sanctity of Jerusalem, and the inviolability of the temple, a fixed and permanent structure in Jerusalem. For just as the tabernacle had been, in Moses’s time, the site of God’s presence, the temple that David envisioned (2 Sam. 7; 1 Chron. 22) and his son Solomon built (1 Kgs. 6–9; 2 Chron. 3–7) became the cultic embodiment of the covenant. Though it is possible to separate the Sinai and Zion covenant traditions, it would be unwise to distinguish too sharply between them.14 Viewed from a larger, canonical perspective, the two are densely interpenetrated. In the prophetic books, the law revealed at Sinai becomes the standard by which kings are evaluated. The temple, a fixed and permanent structure, is modeled after the tabernacle, the portable tent first erected in the wilderness. Despite being at one point an unwelcome imposition on the Sinaitic theocracy (1 Sam. 8; 12), human kingship was conditioned at all times by divine sovereignty that was established at Sinai. The king was charged with keeping order in the form of just rule (Deut. 17:14–20), and the prophet was responsible for speaking about it truthfully (ch. 18). In other words, the law remained central. It served as


Michael C. Legaspi

charter for a divine project aimed at turning Israel into an exemplar of wisdom that would shine among the nations. What is interesting here is that Israel’s fidelity to the law is described as its “wisdom”: Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” (Deut. 4:5–6 RSV; emphasis added) Torah obedience and wisdom are, in effect, two sides of the same coin: seen from within, Israel’s life is one of fidelity to God’s commandments; seen from without, Israel’s loyalty is regarded by the nations as its special “wisdom.” The same point is also made, strikingly, in Sirach 24. There a personified Wisdom—who dwells in the heavens, encompasses the earth, and holds sway over the nations (24:4–6)—is nevertheless commanded by God to make her dwelling (Gk. skēnē; cf. John 1:14) specifically in Jacob and to accept Israel as a unique “inheritance” (24:8, 12). As Wisdom flourishes in Israel, she spreads out blossoming branches “glorious and graceful” (24:16–17). The imagery here suggests that Wisdom, embodied in Israel’s fidelity to the law, will elevate it to a position of honor among the nations. The ultimate end of Israel’s torah obedience, though, is the eschatological victory of God. The prophet Isaiah, for example, offers the following oracle: It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into

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pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isa. 2:2–4 RSV) What ultimately distinguishes Zion, what marks it as the “highest of mountains,” is the “law” (torah) that proceeds from it, instructs the nations, and prepares the way for their reconciliation to God and one another.


Fourth, wisdom has a personal aspect. Just as biblical wisdom orders life in its metaphysical, cosmic, and public dimensions, it guides the life of the individual as well. Wisdom in the form of divine instruction guides the nations toward peace, reconciliation, and willing submission to divine authority. In the life of the individual, wisdom works in a similar way. It aims at well-being through personal righteousness. Consider the virtueethical stance of the epistle of James: the “wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity” (James 3:17 RSV). It would be a mistake, however, to understand biblical teaching about righteousness or wisdom in moralistic terms, as though the point of this teaching were merely to produce rules for human cooperation, to promote social harmony by decrying egoism. Friedrich Nietzsche, for example, characterizes the wisdom of Christian morality as timid and small-minded. It is unworthy of the human soul because it apparently values weakness instead of strength, conformity instead of creativity, and self-loathing instead of genuine spiritual ambition. It is, for him, the “way of cowardly souls,” a repressed, resentful way of life that teaches people to be “humble and dog-like and pious and quick to please.”15 From the perspective of Nietzschean polytheism, Christian moral teachings appear to be slavish and life-denying. If Christian metaphysics are disqualified or left out of account, then there is, indeed, no good reason to call those who are poor and weak “blessed” as Jesus does in the Sermon on the Mount. In other words, if wisdom is reduced to moralism, then Nietzsche is correct. But if Christian virtue ethics are understood in the fuller context of a wisdom which disciplines


Michael C. Legaspi

moral life in order to save human beings for something better, then its true ambition comes into view. Ultimately, wisdom elevates moral aspiration by demonstrating that Christian virtue, though humanly appropriate, is nevertheless instrumental. Its true telos is the salvation and healing of humanity. Nietzsche was concerned, too, to restore moral and intellectual life to a whole or “healthy” condition. Biblical wisdom, though, goes beyond Nietzsche in extending healthful restoration to humanity as a whole, rather than to extraordinary individuals who are, on his terms, super, strong, and free. Wisdom aims not at personal liberation but at something far grander: the restoration of all life to its true telos in God. This point, though, cannot be argued in the abstract. At issue here is not the validity of a Christian principle but the extent to which actual Christian lives are compelling. This is why the veneration of saints is so crucial to Orthodox piety and theology. The Christian position is ultimately vindicated by experience: both the experience of the church in her holy men and women, and the experience of God’s people witnessed and formalized in scripture. Consider, once again, the example of Job. Job maintained a loyalty to self when at odds with the world around him. As Job says in the midst of his ordeal, “until I die I will not put away my integrity from me” (27:5). It is worth asking, then, what, precisely, Job’s integrity is. In what does it consist? The word translated “integrity” is tummah. This comes from the same root as the adjective tam, which we find in the first verse of the book, where Job is described as tam veyashar, “perfect and upright.” Job’s “integrity” refers to his status as a paragon or exemplar of wisdom. Psalm 37:37 (KJV), for example, instructs us to “mark the perfect man, and behold the upright [tam veyashar]: for the end of that man is peace [shalom].” It is possible to construe the idea behind this verse mechanically, as Job’s friends apparently did, in order to indicate the idea that the righteous, by conforming to the order of things, will prosper as a matter of course and enjoy the full range of blessings, security, and good fortune associated with the word shalom. The point of being tam veyashar, though, is not actually to prosper in the world, to settle into a peaceful, respectable life. Because Job was not aiming at shalom in this mild, bourgeois sense, we may say that he indeed feared God hinnam, without expectation of reward (Job 1:9). But, taking a different view of what it is to be tam veyashar and, indeed, of what shalom is, we

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may say that Job’s piety was not disinterested and that he was actually after something large and important. He who is truly tam veyashar seeks only one thing: to see God. More precisely: he aims to see God at the same time that he has come also to experience, with horror, the immanence of death and chaos in the world. The pious desire to see God in the midst of deathly affliction is evident in other biblical texts. What we find in these texts, though, is that this desire is identified with a longing, more specifically, to see God in the temple. In the famous prayer of Jonah 2, for example, the prophet is made to describe his location not as the belly of the fish but instead as the belly of Sheol: “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried” (2:2). He has succumbed to the watery chaos only to find himself in death’s subterranean kingdom: “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever” (2:6a KJV). From this position, Jonah’s thoughts turn toward the temple: “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple” (2:7 KJV). We observe the same elements elsewhere: an encounter with death, either through illness or the violence of the wicked; confession of personal piety; and a plea for salvation culminating in the vision of God in the temple. In Psalm 15, the psalmist asks who can abide in God’s tabernacle and dwell on his holy hill. He then answers his own question: he who is blameless (possesses tummah), works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart (15:2). In Psalm 25, the psalmist is “desolate,” “afflicted,” burdened by “troubles of heart” and “distresses.” He nevertheless directs his “eyes toward the Lord” (v. 15) and prays that his “integrity and uprighteness” (Heb. tom vayosher) may preserve him,” for he says, “I wait on Thee” (v. 21). The pattern is especially clear in Psalm 27: When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. (Ps. 27:2–4 KJV)


Michael C. Legaspi

One more example: Hezekiah, after he had been healed from deathly illness, said, in his prayer of thanksgiving, that he had been headed to the “gates of the grave” and lamented that he would no longer see the Lord. Yet God heard Hezekiah’s prayer, delivered him from the “pit of corruption,” and restored him to the land of the living. Hezekiah’s first question after recovering was, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord?” (Isa. 38:22). As a man from Uz, a non-Israelite, Job, of course, knew nothing of the temple. Yet his life follows the pattern of the tam veyashar that we observe elsewhere in scripture. Job may not have longed for the temple, but he longed to present himself to God. In the whirlwind speeches, God grants an audience to Job and appears, as it were, in the midst of his cosmic temple (cf. Job 38:2 LXX). The settled victory of God that resulted in the peaceable cosmos of Genesis 1, Proverbs 8, and Psalm 104 was embodied in the ordered spaces and Eden-like atmosphere of the Jerusalem temple. In the whirlwind speeches Job sees the order from a different vantage point, as one on the outside looking in, or as one looking not at a photograph of the cosmic order but rather at its film negative. To think of it temporally rather than spatially, Job is a kind of forerunner who foresees the victory of God over chaos and the establishment of an order fully hospitable to the righteous. In seeing God in the whirlwind, Job encounters a God who will not destroy him, nullify his integrity, or resolve him into one of the friends’ false categories. Job is brought to the shattering realization that his piety does correspond to the order of things—not to the mechanical, dualistic order of the retributionists but rather to an order in which the individual who has given himself to God is, ultimately, allowed to remain himself. Whereas Job’s friends saw only arrogance and defiance in Job, the vision of God in the whirlwind speeches elicits from Job utter humility and gratitude. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (42:5–6 KJV). Job finally relents, accepting his smallness in the order of things, because he has received a place in that order that fits the shape and trajectory of his life, the life of one who seeks God even in the midst of death. The epilogue to the book of Job contains an important detail that is also pertinent here. After the whirlwind speeches, God vindicates Job in

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the sight of his friends, telling Eliphaz, “Ye [the three friends] have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath” (42:7 KJV). He then tells them to bring an offering to Job and have him pray for them. It is significant, I believe, that Job himself is restored only when he intercedes for Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar: “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends” (42:10 KJV). Job is then reinserted into the order that apparently failed him before. Yet Job’s posttrial life is richer, fuller. His wealth is doubled, and his friends and family gather to honor him and acknowledge his suffering. Whereas his nameless daughters had lost their lives collaterally at the start of the book by attending feasts in their brothers’ houses, Job’s new daughters are named, praised for their beauty, and given houses of their own. The point of the epilogue is not simply to vindicate the retributive order ( Job the righteous now prospers). I believe that the deeper concern of the book is not the reward that comes in the end to Job as an individual, but the reward that comes to all, graciously, in the form of healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Like the cosmic order, the social order, too, must be received eucharistically. The epilogue to Job adds an additional qualifier: this order must also be sought eschatologically, in a victory of God that follows the failure and exhaustion of human possibilities. In Orthodox understanding, the church is a body constituted by God for precisely this purpose: to initiate on earth the reality of a reconciled, eucharistic community that looks forward to the restoration of all things in Christ. But the world has not yet been restored. For this reason, love, humility, suffering, and hope are the touchstones of Orthodox piety. It makes sense, then, that, in Orthodox tradition, Job came to be known, above all, as “the much suffering Job.” It is in demonstrating the “patience of Job” (James 5:11) that the faithful hope, finally, to see God ( Job 42:5) and stand before him, like Job, vindicated and unashamed.




What implications does a biblical conception of wisdom have for higher education today? What difference does it make to pursue knowledge within the context of wisdom? Wisdom, first of all, is steadfastly holistic. As an organizing concept, it holds together life in its metaphysical, cosmic, social, and personal aspects. It begins with the fear of the Lord, the


Michael C. Legaspi

recognition that all of life begins with God, finds unity in his sovereign will, and returns to him. Scholars oriented toward wisdom, then, refuse to compartmentalize knowledge and forms of inquiry. For example, natural science may be empirical and specialized, but it depends upon assumptions about reality that can be adjudicated only in philosophical terms. History, literature, and fine art are concerned with culture, but no human culture is fully intelligible in purely materialistic terms; that is, culture cannot be understood without reference to its metaphysical frameworks and moral aspirations. Engineering and applied science extend technical expertise and mastery of the natural world, but they presuppose prior judgments about what kinds of technical knowledge are worth attaining and what these forms of knowledge are ultimately for. Wisdom manifests itself, then, in the disciplined search for meaningful connection. If wisdom is oriented toward intellectual holism, it also frames knowledge in profoundly moral terms. Understood in its biblical dimensions, wisdom is a path, a manner of “walking” in the world. As such, it resists the fragmentation so characteristic of modern habits of mind. It is intensely interested in the cosmos, a dynamic world of created things, but it discerns in them goodness and purpose, eschewing the metaphysical resignation of the nihilist and the materialist. It upholds social order, but it refuses to characterize social arrangements simply as provisional ways to inoculate ourselves against one another while we pursue individualized projects. Instead, it sees moral order, in lawful terms, as the realization of God’s gracious rule and, in the life of the church, as the basis for peace, healing, and reconciliation. Wisdom declines to separate virtue from our deepest spiritual aspiration: our desire to stand like Job, unashamed, before a God who loves us, knows us intimately, and identifies with us in our weakness and suffering. It thus yields morality but not moralism; that is, wisdom affirms the usefulness of ethical rules, but it denies that rules are ends in themselves. It is thus the mark of Christian wisdom to see the unity of all things not in nakedly intellectual terms, as something fully transparent to human reason, but rather as embodied and actualized in the One who unites humanity and divinity, strength and humility, holiness and power. Accordingly, the goal of wise formation is not rational mastery but participation in the life of Christ, the One in whom all things hold together (Col 1:17).

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Brought into being by divine speech and reason (Gk. logos), the world manifests genuine variety in its creatures, principles, and forms of life, but it also manifests a divine order in which these things are made to coexist harmoniously. Concord, rather than conflict, is fundamental to this order. The world is not a machine, a pure given, an inert repository of materials. Biblical wisdom stipulates that the world is a cosmos only insofar as God overcomes chaos on its behalf. For this reason, human flourishing is not a matter, simply, of understanding and manipulating the natural world; it depends, rather, upon a communal effort to follow the divine will and to realize the just, gracious rule of God which is inherent in the natural and social orders. This effort, extending over time, took on a verbal, textual, anthological character in ancient Israel, retaining a deeply traditional orientation in the early Christian church as well. The path of wisdom was identified, further, with the keeping of the law. Though obedience to the law was later construed in different ways by Jews and early Christians, wisdom was understood by both as taking on the “yoke” of divine instruction (Sir. 51:26; Matt. 11:29–30). Saint Paul understood the Christian life, for example, to include the fulfillment of the “just requirement of the law” by those who “walk . . . according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1–5). Finally, though wisdom disposes us to seek knowledge in holistic, profoundly moral terms, it begins and ends with the realization that our wisdom, though real, is necessarily incomplete. Modesty befits the wise scholar. Respectful, disciplined attention to the order of things is the starting point for the life of the mind. Put simply, the contribution of the scholar—indeed, the purpose for his existence as a scholar—is the attainment and transmission of hard-won knowledge. Professors who fulfill this vocation do one important and useful thing: they initiate the next generation into the stubborn yet wondrous reality of a world that cannot be remade according to human desire. Perhaps equally important, though, is the conviction that desire itself is essential to the pedagogical enterprise. When human desire is instructed, chastened, and directed toward God, it engages the whole person in the quest for knowledge—his drive to understand the world, his thirst for justice, his capacity for love. Wisdom, then, does not rest content with a settled understanding of the way things are. It rather organizes and limits knowledge in order to save it from folly,


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presumption, and resignation. In tethering us to the world, wisdom makes it possible for us to see, with sturdy, intelligent hope, what life in the world may yet become.

NOTES Unless otherwise noted, all translations of scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version. 1. See, for example, Marcus Plested, “Wisdom in the Fathers: An (Eastern) Orthodox Perspective,” in Encounter between Eastern Orthodoxy and Radical Orthodoxy: Transfiguring the World through the Word, ed. Adrian Pabst and Christoph Schneider (London: Ashgate, 2009), 239–48; Alexei V. Nesteruk, “Wisdom through Communion and Personhood: From Patristic Theology to Contemporary Science,” in Wisdom or Knowledge? Science, Theology and Cultural Dynamics, ed. Huberg Meisinger, Willem B. Drees, and Zbigniew Liana (London: T & T Clark, 2006), 73–90. 2. Maximos the Confessor, “The Church’s Mystagogy,” in Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings, trans. George C. Berthold (New York: Paulist, 1985), 181–225; see also Andrew Louth, “Space, Time and the Liturgy,” in Pabst and Schneider, Encounter between Eastern Orthodoxy and Radical Orthodoxy, 215–31. 3. Max Weber, “Science as a Vocation,” in The Vocation Lectures, ed. and with introduction by David Owen and Tracy B. Strong, trans. Rodney Livingstone (Indianapolis: Hackett, 2004), 22–23. 4. Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope (New York: Penguin, 1999), 266–71. See also Amos Funkenstein, “The Polytheism of William James,” Journal of the History of Ideas 55, no. 1 (January 1994): 99–111. 5. Jon D. Levenson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil: The Jewish Drama of Divine Omnipotence (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 65. 6. Compare the depiction of Leviathan as a crushed and broken foe in Ps. 74, and as a harmless, playful creature in Ps. 104. 7. See Levenson, Creation and the Persistence of Evil, 47–50. 8. For more on this “eucharistic sensibility,” see Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World (Upper Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 1973). 9. James L. Kugel, “Wisdom and the Anthological Temper,” Prooftexts 17 (1997): 16. 10. Ibid., 17 (emphasis original). 11. Note the way, for instance, that Solomon’s wisdom was quantified in 1 Kgs. 4:32: “He composed three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a

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thousand and five.” The super-sage Qoheleth also boasts not of superior wisdom but of having a greater amount of wisdom than his predecessors (Eccles. 1:16). 12. Kugel, “Wisdom and the Anthological Temper,” 18–19. 13. Paul Nadim Tarazi, The Old Testament: An Introduction, vol. 3, Psalms and Wisdom (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996), 116. 14. Jon D. Levenson, Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible (San Francisco: Harper, 1985), 213. 15. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, ed. Adrian del Caro and Robert B. Pippin, trans. Adrian del Caro (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 152.



A R H E T O R I C F I T F OR T H E GOS PEL Education in the Letters of Saint Paul

g eorge l. P Arsenios

Jesus surprised his listeners because he spoke with great authority, even though he had “never been taught” (John 7:15). He had no formal education. Saint Paul was very different. Paul was trained in the law of Moses at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), and Paul himself tells us, “I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors” (Gal. 1:14; cf. Phil. 3:4– 11).1 But if Paul was educated in the Jewish law, his education was not confined to the law. He clearly received formal training in philosophy and rhetoric much like the education enjoyed by his non-Jewish peers in the broader world of the Roman Empire. The proof of this “secular” education lies on every page of his letters. A vast and ever-growing body of scholarship demonstrates that Paul knew both the canons of Greek and Roman rhetoric and the tools of moral formation popular among contemporary philosophers.2 One expert in ancient literature has recently characterized Paul as “a Hellenized Jew with a good rhetorical education.”3 This second area of education, the “secular” training in rhetoric, makes 102

A Rhetoric Fit for the Gospel


Paul an important figure for discussion in the present volume. He seamlessly combines Jewish theological training with a Greek rhetorical education as mutually supportive tools in his labors as a Christian theologian and apostle. This essay will focus on the place of rhetoric in Paul’s letters in order to reflect on the relationship between secular education and the gospel. Paul is an important figure for discussion in the present volume for another prominent reason as well. The phrase “Hellenized Jew” from the previous paragraph underlines this importance. The phrase emphasizes that Paul is caught between two worlds. Many Orthodox thinkers struggle to find a proper place to work in the Western world, and Paul was educated and conducted his ministry in an environment that was not only foreign to his native Judaism but often hostile to it. Ever since the Babylonian captivity, the Jews were ruled by a succession of foreign rulers: Persians, Greeks, and Romans. The Greek kings, the successors of Alexander the Great, left the greatest impression, and this impression is obvious in the fact that the New Testament was written in Greek. Living in a Greek environment, many Jews increasingly adopted Greek ways of living and thinking. Not all Jews were open to Hellenic influence. Some, like the book of Daniel, hoped for God to intervene in human affairs and free his people, while others, like the Maccabees, took matters into their own hands in armed rebellion. Theology and intellectual life were also a place for negotiating between Judaism and Hellenism. The authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls sought to seal themselves off as much as possible from the intellectual world that their gentile overlords introduced. Other Jews, like the Egyptian Philo of Alexandria, adopted a different posture. A very faithful Jew, Philo nevertheless engaged in allegorical interpretations of the Old Testament through which he showed that the principles of Greek philosophy, especially Platonism and Stoicism, were visible in the Old Testament. Like those Jews living under foreign rule, many Orthodox in the West find themselves in an intellectual, political, and social climate foreign to their native categories. The problems inherent in this reality may be most obvious in theology, but they are also significant in the other humanities and cannot be totally absent anywhere. Various options exist for responding to this circumstance, ranging from a desire to avoid any


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Western influence at all to an easy and complete capitulation. Saint Paul is a helpful guide in the pursuit of the proper path. He avoids both polar extremes. He clearly relies on Greek and Roman rhetorical tools and techniques, but always does so in a way that furthers the mission of the gospel. His standard is the gospel, which did not come from him, but to which he is obedient. He is careful to warn his churches that they should never heed a teaching other than the gospel (Gal. 1:8), and he warns as well that the gospel is not something that he himself invented, but a teaching that was passed on to him before he passed it to others (1 Cor. 11:23; 15:3). He engages his world, and uses the tools of that world, but always with a clear eye of discernment in order to serve the gospel. This careful discernment is the key to understanding Paul. An important qualification is necessary at the outset, though. First, if it is true that Paul’s letters reflect secular learning, it is just as true that Paul opposes the gospel to the wisdom of the world. It is a nuanced relationship. The idea that worldly learning has no value for the gospel is consistent with Paul only if we confine our attention to such comments as the one in 1 Corinthians 2:6: “Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish.”4 But if such a reading of Paul is possible, it is also incomplete. To be sure, Paul is not interested in integration between academic life and Christian theology in any of the forms defined by Jacobsen.5 Paul’s procedure is much closer to what McGuckin discerns in the Byzantine period in his essay in the present volume. When describing the educational practices of the Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire, McGuckin says, “[The church] has loved learning. It has wanted to educate its people. . . . But always, it has known where its learning was looking.” To define more clearly where the church’s “learning was looking,” McGuckin refers to a line of Saint Gregory the Theologian, who says, “Put letters in obeisance to the Word.”6 This is Paul’s procedure. He puts learning in obeisance to the gospel. If letters can obey the Word, then secular learning and the gospel are not utterly separate and apart. A complicated and nuanced understanding of the matter underlies Paul’s use of rhetorical forms and styles. Not all forms of rhetoric and rhetorical posturing are equally valuable to Paul, and some are subjected to direct critique. But secular learning definitely serves the gospel.

A Rhetoric Fit for the Gospel



We do not know where Paul learned rhetoric, but we do know that rhetoric sat at the top of the educational pyramid in the early Roman Empire. The centrality of rhetoric in ancient education cannot be overstated. Craig A. Gibson makes the point well in discussing the education of those who composed history in antiquity: “But history, much less the writing of history, was not a subject studied in the schools. Rhetoric was. In fact it was the subject.”7 Historians in antiquity did not go to school to study how to write history. They studied rhetoric, and then wrote history in light of their rhetorical training. If this was true of ancient history writing, it was even truer of other forms of writing, such as epistolography.8 Famous orators as early as Demosthenes (384–322 BCE) wrote letters that were infused with rhetorical styles of argument.9 Paul’s letters are no less rhetorically charged.10 At the early stages of schooling a student would have been attached to a grammatikos, from whom he would have learned basic reading, writing, and counting, followed by progressively more complicated grammatical and literary training. The highest stage of learning, and the one which most students could not afford to enjoy, would have been the intense study of philosophy, rhetoric, or both.11 It is not clear how high Paul climbed up this educational curriculum,12 but his knowledge of rhetoric is obvious. A brief look at 1 Corinthians and Philippians makes his practice plain. 1 Corinthians mimics ancient speeches on concord (Gk. homonoia). One of the most fatal diseases that could plague an ancient city was the factionalism that could invite civil war or even worse disasters.13 In order to urge their fellow citizens to live in unity and avoid such strife, orators developed a stock set of arguments on concord, and several examples of the concord speech have been preserved. 1 Corinthians resembles these speeches in ways both broad and deep. Concord speeches, for instance, regularly urged citizens to seek their common advantage (to koinē sympheron), as opposed to personal or individual gain.14 Paul instructs his readers to do the same at various points (6:12; 7:35; 10:23; 10:33; 12:7).15 The argument ranging from 10:23 to 10:33 is especially significant. Just after Paul says, “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things


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are advantageous” (sympherei; 10:23, my translation), he holds himself up as an example by saying that he himself does not seek his own advantage (symphoron), but only whatever is advantageous for the many (10:33). This is just one of the many technical terms from the rhetoric of concord that drive the argument of 1 Corinthians. But Paul uses concord rhetoric in a unique way because of his unique message. When ancient orators or thinkers employ the image of the body politic, for example, they insist that concord might be achieved when the lower orders of the body (e.g., the feet) realize their proper station and allow the upper orders of society (the head) to govern and to rule.16 Paul is different. The body of Christ is made of differentiated but equal members, none of whom is irrelevant or dispensable (12:22), and the various parts are arranged in such a way so “that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another” (12:25). In making such an assertion, he overturns cultural assumptions about how different social classes interact. Those viewed by the world as irrelevant or dispensable are viewed by Paul as deserving equal or even greater honor (12:23). If Paul relies on the rhetoric of this world, he does so in a way that is appropriate to the world-denying message of the gospel. Philippians is equally steeped in a particular rhetorical form, in this case the rhetoric of consolation.17 Paul writes Philippians to believers that are suffering in several ways. Not only are they being persecuted (1:27– 30), but they are also worried about the imprisoned Paul (1:7, 13–14, 17, 29–30), and they struggle to make progress in their faith due to Paul’s absence (1:25–27; 2:12, 24). Paul combats their dejection with the rhetoric of consolation. Ancient consolers regularly insist that grief can be defeated, and even turned to joy, when people discern (diapherei) what really matters in life, and thus realize that nothing bad has actually befallen them. In this spirit, Paul opens his letter by urging his readers to “discern the things that matter” (ta diapheronta; 1:10).18 The Philippians’ grief will turn to joy once they recognize that their own suffering, as well as Paul’s imprisonment, does not impede the progress of the gospel— which is the only thing that matters. The Philippians should imitate Paul, who says, “Christ is proclaimed . . . and in that I rejoice” (1:18). His personal suffering is insignificant in comparison to the joy he feels at the progress of the gospel. All grief would turn to joy if the Philippians

A Rhetoric Fit for the Gospel


would realize the one thing that matters: “the surpassing value of knowing Christ” (3:8). Focusing his readers’ attention on this one and only thing that matters is the purpose of Paul’s rhetoric in Philippians. This is typical in consolation literature, but Paul is not at all typical in defining the knowledge of Christ as the one thing that matters. In each of these letters, 1 Corinthians and Philippians, Paul turns the tools and techniques of secular rhetoric to the pastoral care of his communities. He clearly follows the outlines or rhetorical templates that one would appropriate in a secular rhetorical education, but fills these templates with the content of Christian theology. He places letters in obeisance to the Word.


And yet, if Paul argues like an orator in Philippians and 1 Corinthians, he also rejects rhetoric in the very same argument of 1 Corinthians. He not only places letters in obeisance to the word, but expels those aspects of rhetorical practice that would undermine the gospel message. He does so in two ways. First, he rejects the social posturing of orators and the competitive pursuit of fame that drives them. In 1 Corinthians 2:1–5, he writes, When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. Paul first mentions how he “came” to the Corinthians. The arrival of a famous orator in an ancient city was a grand event that would turn out the populace of a city like the arrival of sports figures or entertainers will today. When Aristides entered Smyrna in 176, for example, he was greeted


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by the youths of the city, who asked to become his pupils.19 An advertisement of his arrival and the promise that he would deliver a public oration were followed by a display of eloquence. And he made this display earlier than expected, because another orator had been advertising his own public speeches for two days and Aristides did not want to be upstaged by this unexpected rival. Money and fame were on the line.20 When Paul writes to his flock in Corinth, he does not participate in this competitive culture of rhetorical display, and its concomitant pursuit of fame and prestige. The competitive striving of the Corinthians is precisely what he seeks to correct, as they struggle with one another to see who has the more significant baptism (1:12–15), or who possesses the more profound spiritual gifts (chs. 12–14). Paul presents himself as the “rubbish of the world” (4:13), and asks the Corinthians to imitate him in this character (4:16). Thus, a chief aspect of his rejection of rhetoric is a rejection of the social standing that orators enjoy, and of the competitive social striving associated with this standing. Paul takes the matter even further. He seems to shun not only orators, but oratory itself. He claims that he did not attempt to display shimmering eloquence, “lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor. 1:17 RSV). The idea that the content of a message could be corrupted or nullified by a glorious appearance is not unique to Paul, but was part of the standard criticism of rhetoric by philosophers as early as Plato. In the Gorgias, Plato famously argues that rhetoric is related to the pursuit of true and good government in the same way that cooking is related to the health of the body.21 While the health of the body finds true improvement only in medicine, one might mistakenly choose to heal the body through excellent cooking. A fine cook might make a body feel pleasure by dressing up the taste or appearance of food, but a cook cannot heal or improve a body. Only medicine can. The same applies to the body politic. Good government seeks the good of the city and seeks to rule justly, while the counterfeit of good government is rhetoric. Rhetoric seeks not to improve but only to please the citizen body with dazzling sophistry, or to persuade the populace to take actions that may or may not be in its best interests. Like cookery, rhetoric seeks to please but not to improve. In the Phaedrus, Plato softens his stance somewhat, and allows for the possibility that rhetoric might be used for good ends, but only in particular cases, provided that orators work for the good of their auditors and

A Rhetoric Fit for the Gospel


understand the soul.22 If it is to improve its hearers, rhetoric must be focused not on transient matters or worldly power, but on the benefit of the soul. Thus, rhetoric and philosophy are not utterly incompatible. A similar line of thought is found in the writings of Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BCE–c. 50 CE), the Hellenized Jew and contemporary of Jesus and Paul. On the one hand, Philo speaks of oratory as a form of magic that allows one to beguile one’s listeners by charming them, with little concern for the truth or for the improvement of those who listen.23 On the other hand, Philo was himself an accomplished orator. He led a mission of Alexandria’s Jews to the court of the emperor Gaius Caligula, and such a post would have been entrusted only to someone who knew how to speak in such a setting, which implies considerable rhetorical training.24 Thus, Paul’s claim that rhetoric could empty a message of its power, or fill a message with the wrong type of power so that it deceives rather than guides to the truth, does not require him utterly to avoid rhetoric. Both Plato and Philo rely on the persuasive power of rhetoric, even as they recognize that rhetoric, when misused, can lead astray. What Socrates seeks in Plato’s Phaedrus is simply to find “a rhetoric that can please God best.”25 Thus, when Paul critiques rhetoric and the standard excesses of rhetorical posturing, he is already relying on standard philosophical arguments extending as far back in time as Plato. Even his critique of rhetoric relies on “secular” learning. Not only does he find value for the Christian mission in secular rhetoric, then, but he also curbs the excesses of rhetoric in keeping with standard intellectual models. And yet Paul’s approach to rhetoric is also unique to his own work. Finding a rhetoric that can please God is determined by the dictates of the Christian mission, which does not offer success or prestige in the present world. Paul opposes the “message of the cross” (1 Cor. 1:18; ho logos tou staurou) to the ways of the present world by announcing, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe” (1:21). Whatever in this world is wise or esteemed is foolishness in the eyes of God, and whatever is honored or wise before God is foolishness to the world (1:20–25). Given this reality, believers have a new relation to the world that is founded on a basic eschatological reality.26 This eschatological principle is that Christians should live in the present life as though they are already in the final days, and are ready to


George L. Parsenios

assume life in a new world. This world is passing away, and Christians should shun its ways. Believers no longer belong to the world, but to Christ. They are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Paul neatly sums up the implications of this eschatological and christological view of reality in 1 Corinthians 7:29–31: Let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. This is a clear call for detachment from the world, and yet a call to detachment that simultaneously recognizes that Paul himself and all believers are still very much living in the present world. When he writes to them, for example, about the need to avoid immoral people, Paul recognizes that the Corinthians cannot avoid all such people, since they “would then need to go out of the world,” which is impossible (1 Cor. 5:10). Likewise, when Paul counsels people to avoid the anxieties of marriage in order to focus on the next life, he also affirms that husbands and wives are united to one another in marital intimacy (7:2–5). The Corinthians may be a new creation, therefore, and they may be members of the body of Christ, but they are also still members of the body politic of Corinth. Their difficulty resides in the need to navigate between the old and new, the above and below. Christians must make use of the things of this world, but they must do so in a new way that is in keeping with their new reality. “Even as they continue to live and work in the very same places and positions as before their conversion, they are now there as people who have been given life in Christ and whose hope is in God.”27 If this is true of the Corinthian Christians, it is just as true of Paul himself, and especially of his use of rhetoric. It is equally true for Orthodox Christian scholars today and invites us in conclusion to summarize certain basic principles. Even though Paul opposes the wisdom of God to the wisdom of the world, he does not consign worldly wisdom to the dustbin. Indeed, he relies on various patterns of what we could call “secular” persuasion in his apostolic work. Rhetoric is an essential aspect

A Rhetoric Fit for the Gospel


of Paul’s work. In many places, he modifies rhetorical models in order to tailor them to his message, as noted in the Corinthian correspondence, but he nevertheless begins with rhetorical models. Even when Paul criticizes rhetorical excesses, his claim is not that using any form of secular learning is unchristian. He, rather, finds fault with the vanity and posturing characteristic of orators. He also rejects any use of rhetoric that seeks to flatter instead of to improve. But these are not uniquely Christian arguments. They are standard philosophical critiques of rhetoric. As Paul finds his way through these issues, he finds allies who are not necessarily Christian thinkers but who help him to rely on secular tools in a way that serves the gospel. By finding such allies and by drawing on other philosophers’ critiques of rhetoric in his own critique, Paul thus shows yet another way in which contemporary Orthodox scholars can navigate contemporary academic circles. Paul’s use of rhetoric invites us to avoid easy oppositions between the world and the church when it comes to the realm of higher learning. It is just as incorrect to say that he delights in every aspect of contemporary intellectual life as it is to say that he avoids every aspect of it. The reality is a much more complicated approach to the matter that relies on careful and nuanced discernment, a process of discernment that guides people still living in the present world to use the tools and techniques of this world in such a way as to point to the next world. Even as Paul directs the Corinthians to a vision of the next world, he speaks to them in and from this present world and employs the patterns of persuasion of this world— but not in the manner that these things are normally used by people in the world. In all things, the gospel stands supreme—even when it appears as foolishness to the world (1 Cor. 1:18). For contemporary scholars, the desire to present Orthodox theology in a modern idiom should never become an effort to make Orthodox theology fit too neatly into categories that are alien, and thereby remove the scandal of the gospel. When the gospel stands supreme, it can utilize tools from many different toolboxes, but it will use those tools in ways that transform and transfigure them. This is how Paul approaches rhetoric. As Wayne Meeks and John Fitzgerald eloquently state the matter, “he strives here to find a form of rhetoric, a new range of metaphors that will be adequate to express what he calls ‘the message of the cross.’. . . Paul purports to speak of a different kind of wisdom, requiring a different eloquence.”28 He seeks a rhetoric fit for the gospel—a rhetoric that puts letters in obeisance to the Word.


George L. Parsenios

NOTES Unless otherwise noted, all translations of scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version. 1. The present essay focuses on Paul’s exposure to and use of Greek and Roman education, but this is not to imply that the educational heritage of Judaism is unimportant. Previous generations have understood the relationship between Judaism and Hellenism in Paul to be an either-or question. The reality is much more complicated. Paul is both Jew and Greek at every turn. For discussion of the modern debate over Paul’s relative Judaism or Hellenism, see essays 1–3 in T. Engberg-Pedersen, Paul beyond the Judaism/Hellenism Divide (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2001). Essays 4–11 in the same volume discuss the interaction of Judaism and Hellenism in Paul’s letters. For a popular presentation of the relevant issues, see George L. Parsenios, “Hellenism in the New Testament,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 54 (2010): 303–22. 2. The bibliography on Paul’s use of rhetoric and philosophy is vast and constantly growing. For Paul’s familiarity with popular trends in philosophy, see, for example, A. Malherbe, Paul and the Thessalonians (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987); Malherbe, Paul and the Popular Philosophers (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989); C. Glad, Paul and Philodemus: Adaptability in Epicurean and Early Christian Psychagogy (Leiden: Brill, 1995); J. T. Fitzgerald, Friendship, Flattery and Frankness of Speech (Leiden: Brill, 1996), esp. chs. 4–8, which focus on Philippians; Fitzgerald, Philodemus and the New Testament World (Leiden: Brill, 2004), esp. 271–342. For the influence of contemporary rhetoric on Paul’s style of argument, see M. M. Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation: An Exegetical Investigation of the Language and Composition of 1 Corinthians, HUT 28 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1991; repr., Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993); Stanley K. Stowers, A Rereading of Romans: Justice, Jews and Gentiles (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), esp. 13–21, 260–72; F. J. Long, Ancient Rhetoric and Paul’s Apology: The Compositional Unity of 2 Corinthians, SNTSMS 131 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). For essays on various aspects of Paul’s engagement with classical life and learning, see J. P. Sampley, ed., Paul in the Greco-Roman World (New York: Continuum, 2003). For the opposing view that Paul’s exposure to rhetoric is still an open question and not so obvious, see R. Dean Anderson Jr., Ancient Rhetorical Theory and Paul, Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology 18 (Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1996). 3. Kathy Eden, Hermeneutics and the Rhetorical Tradition: Chapters in the Ancient Legacy and Its Humanist Reception, Yale Studies in Hermeneutics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 56. For further discussion, see the recent

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work of Margaret Mitchell, Paul, the Corinthians and the Birth of Christian Hermeneutics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 70. 4. The one place where Paul suggests otherwise, and refers to an association between the plans of God and the ways of the world, is in Rom. 13, but this is not easy to reconcile with what he says throughout his letters on the incompatibility of the plans of heaven and earth. For the difficulties in interpreting Rom. 13, especially in light of Paul’s comments elsewhere, see Leander Keck’s commentary on this passage in Romans (Nashville: Abingdon, 2005), 311–33. 5. Jacobsen and Jacobsen, “More Than the ‘Integration’ of Faith and Learning.” 6. See John A. McGuckin, “Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition,” chapter 1 in this volume; Gregory the Theologian, “On His Own Verses,” Carmina 2.1.39 (PG 37:1329–36). 7. Emphasis original. See Craig A. Gibson, “Learning Greek History in the Ancient Classroom: The Evidence of the Treatises on Progymnasmata,” Classical Philology 99 (2004): 126. For more on rhetoric and education, see R. Cribiore, Gymnastics of the Mind: Greek Education in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), esp. ch. 8. For the rhetorical character of various literary or dramatic forms in antiquity, see the essays in part 2 of Stanley Porter, ed., Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period, 300 BC to AD 400 (Leiden: Brill, 2001). 8. The point is made regularly. See, for instance, David Aune, The New Testament in Its Literary Environment (Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox, 1987), esp. 197–202; and H.-J. Klauck, Ancient Letters and the New Testament: A Guide to Context and Exegesis (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2006), esp. 206–11, where Klauck also warns that one must not assume a complete convergence of rhetoric and epistolography, especially in theoretical works, until very late. 9. Demosthenes’ Epistle 1, for instance, is a letter that is also a sterling example of deliberative rhetoric. 10. Some say that Tarsus, which the book of Acts tells us was Paul’s hometown, was a center of rhetoric, so Paul’s birth there would have implied an exposure to rhetoric, while others argue that he knew no rhetoric because he was educated in his youth in Jerusalem. But public displays of rhetoric were no less common in Jerusalem than in other ancient cities. See Martin Hengel, The Pre-Christian Paul (Philadelphia: Trinity, 1991) 57–62. 11. See Dale Martin, The Corinthian Body (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995), 49. 12. George Kennedy, for instance, warns that there were so many handbooks on rhetoric in circulation in the Roman world, we cannot assume that Paul


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had ever “formally studied rhetoric.” George Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984), 9. 13. Thucydides, for example, describes how stasis (factionalism) infected the body politic of Corcyra in 427 BCE, and then spread to other cities throughout the Greek world and made each city in turn susceptible to be handed over, respectively, to the Athenians or the Spartans (3.82). Similar examples of the danger of factionalism recur throughout his history of the Peloponnesian War, beginning with the example of Epidamnus. The city was first weakened by its civil strife; then one party was expelled and allied themselves with a barbarian tribe, which threatened to overtake the city (1.24.4–5). 14. Demosthenes, Epistle 1, 10. 15. Mitchell, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation, 25–39. 16. Martin, Corinthian Body, 39–47. 17. Paul Holloway, Consolation in Philippians: Philosophical Sources and Rhetorical Strategy, SNTSMS (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 18. This translation is Holloway’s in Consolation in Philippians, 47. 19. See his Oration 51 for the description. 20. Bruce Winter, Philo and Paul among the Sophists, SNTSMS 96 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 144–47. 21. Gorgias, 464–65. 22. Phaedrus, 261a–266b. 23. See On Moses, 1.277, and Winter, Philo and Paul among the Sophists, 88–90. 24. See discussion of Philo’s Embassy to Gaius and his knowledge of rhetoric in Winter, Philo and Paul among the Sophists, ch. 5. 25. Phaedrus, 274b. The pursuit of a rhetoric pleasing to God informs the discussion of the place of rhetoric in the writings of the church fathers by Jaroslav Pelikan, Divine Rhetoric: The Sermon on the Mount as Message and as Model in Augustine, Chrysostom and Luther (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001) esp. 1–18. 26. Victor Paul Furnish, The Theology of the First Letter to the Corinthians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 65. 27. Ibid., 67. 28. See Wayne A. Meeks and John T. Fitzgerald, The Writings of St. Paul (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007), 22.



“L E AR N F R O M ME” Embodied Knowledge through Imitation in Early Christian Pedagogy

B ruce n. B eck

I first encountered an Orthodox Christian pedagogy years ago when I was a doctoral student in New Testament. At an evening dissertation seminar at Harvard Divinity School, one of our professors, a bishop in the Greek Orthodox Church, unforgettably intervened in the discussion of a student’s dissertation proposal. A young Protestant evangelical woman of deep faith, she was visibly shaken as she received criticism on her paper from some of the faculty. Their complaint was her thoroughgoing failure to apply historical-critical analysis to her topic, the Holy Spirit in the Epistles of Saint Paul. The prevailing spirit in the room was dark, a cresting wave of disapproval. And we, her peers, were waiting our turn to cast our stones of critique. But Bishop Demetrios Trakatellis—now Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in America—who was at the time a professor in New Testament at both Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and Harvard Divinity School, and a beloved and esteemed fixture in our department, stood up in the center of the room. He faced her where she stood at the front in distress, gently addressing her by name: “I can see that you love the Holy Spirit very much. And 115


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that is a very good thing. However, it is important that you listen to your professors about how we should read the Pauline Epistles in the academy. You may perhaps be able eventually to write about this topic for your thesis. But to do so here, you will first need to follow the methods of your professors.” After our beloved bishop sat down, the spirit of severity dissipated. We students, uncharacteristically, had nothing to say. His gentle hand had pulled her out of the pit of destruction. Through his compassionate commentary, and the respectful manner in which he offered it, everyone received what he or she needed: the student was recognized for what she had brought to the table, not just what she lacked. At the same time, scholarly standards were upheld, and received methods recommended. In that instant, all of us present were shown how to teach with mercy and rigor—and shown, as well, that the choice between them was a false dichotomy. Recently I reminded Archbishop Demetrios about this incident, which he remembered well. He shared with me that prior to that evening’s seminar, the student’s faculty advisor, stymied, had asked him for assistance. He was willing to do what was necessary for this student to succeed, which meant intervening on her behalf, recognizing her profound commitment to her topic, while at the same time inviting her to integrate the methodologies of her professors into her own work. By his own example, he demonstrated how she could find a way through the peril that genuinely threatened her. He halted the ugly momentum of critique without mercy; he rescued us from ourselves. In this spirit, I invite the reader to consider a particular early Christian tradition of education that finds its source in the Person of Christ, and which has been passed down within the tradition of the Orthodox Church. If we look at his teachings and interactions, he shows himself to be a Teacher who invites his students to learn not something, but someone. He calls his disciples to follow or imitate him. What if we as teachers were to imitate this pedagogy within higher education, asking our students not only to master a body of knowledge, but even more, to reflect how we embody our areas of expertise? How would such a method be implemented in a class on biology, astronomy, English literature, or philosophy?

“Learn from Me”


The pedagogical practice of imitation is only part of the phenomenon to which I draw our attention here. An invitation for learners to imitate the teacher, not just absorb the teacher’s data, is linked to (or circumscribed by) humility, or perhaps more accurately, to the divine work of self-humbling.1 The Savior condescends to our level. The teacher encounters the student where she stands. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28– 29). Jesus proposes a divine descent to the level of the learner, a joining together of teacher and learner, who will be yoked together. Saint Paul receives this tradition of the gentle and humble teacher as a model for learning, exhibiting it in his own apostleship, revealed in his epistles. He demonstrates continuity with Jesus through his words, urging the Corinthians to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). This model is even more intensely manifest through his actions, which I will discuss later. In this chapter, I hope to bring pedagogical models from the past to bear on our present situation in higher education. This is something of a bold exercise in retrieval, one that acknowledges the extent of the historical and contextual boundaries we might need to cross to achieve these ends. I recognize the inherent limitations of the early Christian sources, since they for the most part focus on Christian educators teaching Christians to be Christians. This volume, on the other hand, is more expansive in its scope, addressing itself to academics teaching within any area of higher education and in any type of institution. I suggest that this ancient Christian cultural-religious typos (model) might be transferable to our culture intact, and might, for the sake of our students, inspire us to imitate this pedagogical tradition, wherever, whatever, and whomever we might teach. I will show that the tradition itself was a chain of inspired imitation, a chain that can extend from the first four centuries of the Christian era up to our own time. The catechetical paradigm to which I refer was not only a biblical model of education, but was also thoroughly at home in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and constantly practiced therein. One might begin by considering Saint John Chrysostom, who became patriarch of


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Constantinople in 398.2 He was an educator who embodied the practice of calling his people to imitation of the saints: among these, Saint Paul was first and foremost. Saint John held up Saint Paul as a model; Saint Paul pointed to the humility of Jesus; and Jesus averred that he only did the will of his Father who sent him. One teacher refers to another, who refers to another, in a chain of reference and reverence extending back to the Creator, and forward into the future until the eschaton. This is a deeply founded experience within the Orthodox Christian Church, one that still characterizes the Orthodox phronima (mind-set). It is a worldview standing in sharp contrast to the one predominant in contemporary culture, which lionizes the originality of research and ideas, rather than stressing the debt we owe those from whom we have inherited so much.


Saint John Chrysostom’s esteem for Saint Paul is difficult to describe in words. In his sermons he often professed his love for Paul and his wish that all in his congregation could experience this same love for him. This love for Paul, of course, meant that John also imitated Saint Paul as an ideal saint, and urged his flock to do the same. For example, here is a rather extended quotation by Saint John in which he explains that the relationship between learner and teacher is a critical success factor in education: 2. But not everyone knows this man [Saint Paul] as we ought to know him, and this causes me grief and pain. Some people are so ignorant of him that they have no clear knowledge of the number of Epistles he wrote. Nor is this the result of stupidity on their part; rather, it comes about because they have no desire for constant association with this saintly man. 3. As for myself, it is not because of any natural cleverness or sharpness of wit that I know as much as I know—if indeed I know anything. Rather, it is because I never cease to hold him close to me and because of my strong affection for him. 4. When people are loved, what is in their minds is known by those who love them

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before anyone else can grasp it. This is because those who experience this strong affection feel care and concern for the ones they love.3 Here the distinction between text and author is blurred, and having a relationship with the teacher (and vice versa) is advanced as essential for learning. Saint John does not just read Paul’s epistles; Paul converses with him when he hears the epistles read in services.4 Margaret Mitchell finds a beautiful phrase to describe this way of learning depicted by Saint John; she calls it a “hermeneutics of love.”5 Through this hermeneutic, the student gives the benefit of the doubt (contra suspicion) to the teacher/ author, and is willing to relate to the text as a person, who perhaps has something to teach us, rather than as an object. Mitchell makes the connection between love and imitation when she comments: “His [Saint John’s] hermeneutics of love lead even to a hermeneutics of conformity, as in the interpretive conversation the two were conjoined in an unbreakable bond that was both spiritual and intellectual.”6 Saint John preached sermons on the virtues of Paul, who, though he was a person like themselves, exceeded the virtues of all the biblical heroes and even the angels.7 In addition to his homilies on all of the epistles of Saint Paul, Saint John also preached seven sermons known as De laudibus sancti Pauli (In praise of Paul) in which he paints virtuous portraits of Paul for his congregation to emulate.8 In this example, he contends with the presupposed objection of his listeners that it is too difficult to live a life of virtue. Saint John uses Paul, a normal human being, to cast down such makeshift barriers: For Paul did not obtain another nature, nor share a different soul, nor inhabit another world, but having been reared on the same earth, and land, and laws, and customs, he exceeded all human beings who have existed from the time there have been human beings. Now where are those who say, “virtue is difficult, and vice is easy?” For Paul contradicts them when he says, “the present ease of affliction superabundantly effects an eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).9 Saint John’s rhetorical aim in this sermon of praise (encomium) is to portray Saint Paul before the eyes of the assembly as a normal man, yet one


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who through his relationship with Christ had learned to experience affliction as something light in comparison to the heavy weight of glory. John invited his listeners to imitate Paul, becoming living icons of him. He says this often enough, including at the conclusion of this particular sermon: Do you see how he [Paul] calls all to the same common destiny? Therefore, since the same things lie in store for all, then let us all be zealous to become worthy of these promised goods. And let us look not only at the height and volume of Paul’s virtuous deeds, but also at the intensity of the will to act by which he gained such great grace. . . . And in this way the most difficult actions will seem to us easy and light.10 Saint John’s focus on the apostle Paul as the ideal object of imitation, rather than on Jesus, might strike us as odd, since it is Christ who is typically the ideal model for Christians. In John’s defense, however, we can see that by choosing Paul, he anticipated the criticism that imitating Jesus was too lofty a goal (since he was divine). Therefore, John set his assembly’s eyes on the portrait of Paul most often in his sermons, since Paul was like them in every way, even doing terrible things such as persecuting the church. There is a second, more theologically grounded, defense for Saint John’s zeal for imitating Paul. Saint John was assured by Paul himself that he was imitating Jesus. Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Therefore, here we see a virtual imitation chain, one which extends from one exemplar to the next. John knows quite well that Paul himself is always imitating Jesus, including his suffering. So Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:10, “. . . always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.”11


I teach a course called Saint Paul: His Life, Legacy, and Letters, in which Saint John Chrysostom introduces the students to his beloved Saint Paul, rather than their reading Paul’s epistles right from the start of the semester. I do this for several reasons, but the most important one is that Saint

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John knows Paul intimately, and the students have respect for this great saint of the Orthodox Church, Saint John Chrysostom. It is remarkable how much respect they develop for Saint Paul, before even reading his epistles, by having Saint John Chrysostom speak about his beloved apostle. I am indebted to the work of Margaret Mitchell, as she introduced me to the divine love that Saint John had for Saint Paul.12


In Saint Paul’s letters there are two kinds of imitation at work. First, as shown above, he admonishes that his churches ought to imitate him, even as he himself imitates Christ (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17). There is a second type of imitation, this time going in the opposite direction; Paul also “imitates” those whom he is trying to persuade through his letters through adaptation (synkatábasis 13). We can see this pedagogical adaptation at work through his language; Paul calls on different linguistic domains within his vocabulary for each of the communities he addresses in his epistles. He clothes himself in a style they can recognize easily, so that they can accept more readily what he is saying, harmonizing with their own socioreligious setting. He is constantly reading his rhetorical/pastoral context, and modulating himself to its frequency. Paul confessed to the Corinthians, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22b NRSV). Ultimately, this practice of adaptation is an act of humility or self-emptying. This is teleological pedagogy, always keeping in mind the end goal, which is that “by all means” of contextualized adaptation some may receive and keep his words. Jaclyn Maxwell, in her monograph Christianization and Communication in Late Antiquity: John Chrysostom and His Congregation in Antioch, offers an extended treatment of ways that Saint John made accommodations in his preaching to try, as much as it is possible, to be understood by a very diverse congregation.14 Considerations such as timing, location, rhetorical strategies, language comprehension, and audience segmentation were all applied by Saint John to achieve his aim, which Maxwell summarized as “to try to teach as much as possible to as many as possible.”15


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In a recent monograph, David Rylaarsdam addresses Saint John’s adaptation to what he calls “an ordinary audience,” stating that his sermons do not contain extensive passages of “sublime theology,” as we find with some of the contemporary patristic writers, but rather John’s language is relatively “lowbrow.”16 Rylaarsdam comments that the cause of this discrepancy is twofold: (1) it is in part due to the genre difference between homilies and treatises; and, more significantly for our topic, (2) it demonstrates Saint John’s thoroughgoing imitation of Paul “being all things to all people, that [he] might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22b).17 Rylaarsdam offers a different type of evidence that demonstrates Saint John’s adaptive pastoral ministry, how John varied the advice that he gave depending on the spiritual state of the person to whom he offered counsel. Rylaarsdam cites a portion from Saint John’s treatise On the Priesthood,18 where John compares being too strict with a sinner to trying to stitch up a torn piece of clothing and making the tear worse.19 Just prior to this paragraph, Saint John uses the metaphor of surgery to emphasize how delicate the task of spiritual counseling is for the priest. If one does not cut deep enough, when there is cancer, then the surgery will only mutilate, but not excise the disease. He says that the opposite obtains if you make the needed incision without mercy, since due to the extreme pain, the patient may run out of the surgery and throw himself over a cliff.20 John immediately quotes Jeremiah 5:5, further proving that counseling requires discernment, knowing what will “build up” and what will “destroy.”21 Saint John then immediately cites Jeremiah (5:5) saying “breaking the yoke and bursting the bond.”22 Saint John uses “yoke” and “bonds” within a didactic context here to indicate that if the yoke is too difficult, or if the bonds are too tight, the learner will break loose of the guidance of the priest to a destructive end. The didactic metaphor of the “yoke” will be discussed below in the section “Jesus as Educator.” This traditional pedagogical standard of exercising discernment with each person and developing adaptive strategies may offer us, as educators, fresh insights for improving the learning experience of our students, who are diverse both in their educational backgrounds and their cognitive approaches to learning.

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Thus Saint John espoused and practiced both imitation of Paul (through a hermeneutics of love) and adaptation as pedagogical principles. Paul demonstrated both of these principles of imitation and adaptation, calling his churches to imitate him, even as he imitated Christ by suffering on their behalf. Indeed, there is a direct, textual connection between John Chrysostom’s use of the word “adaptation” (synkatábasis) and Paul’s own description of how he instructs and admonishes his churches. I am persuaded that Paul has understood the death of Jesus not only as an event of salvation, but as one worthy of emulation by all those who put their trust in Jesus’ faithfulness (Gal. 2:20). Therefore, imitation of Jesus for Paul meant to sacrifice on behalf of his churches. Paul says very little about the earthly Jesus, preferring to speak of Christ, who appeared to him as the last of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:8). On at least two occasions, however, Paul describes the preexistent, divine Jesus, describing him in Philippians as one who, having emptied himself, took on the form of a slave and died on the cross for our sakes (2:5–7), and in 2 Corinthians as one who, being rich, became poor for our sakes (8:9).23 On each of these two occasions, Paul’s purpose is to call his spiritual children to imitate the humility of Christ. So, if Paul was using these traditional christological formulations as ethical models for his churches, would it not be true, all the more, that Paul would commit himself to this same imitation of Christ in all his dealings with them as their spiritual father? The word “adaptation” (synkatábasis) does not occur in Scripture, but is frequently used by Saint John, sometimes in a way that closely aligned the concept with Paul’s self-emptying form of apostolic authority—with Paul’s becoming “all things to all people” so that he “might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22).24 In his homily on this section of 1 Corinthians, Saint John wrote: “And I became,” says he, “to the Jews as a Jew, that I might gain Jews” [1 Cor. 9:20]. . . . What do you say? The herald of the world and he who touched the very heavens and shone so bright in grace [that is, Paul], does he all at once descend so low? Yea. For this is to ascend. For you are not to look to the fact only of his descending, but also to his raising up him that was bowed down and bringing him up to himself.25


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From this quotation, it is clear that Paul’s ability to enter into the context and shared assumptions of his audience is translated by Saint John as “adaptation” (synkatábasis). Saint John describes Paul here with language that is extremely close to the language Paul himself describes Christ’s selfemptying with in Philippians (2:5–11), since there too Christ not only empties himself through his descent into our likeness, but also God then “highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name” (2:9). Saint John believed, then, that the process of “adaptation” therefore also implies “raising up” the learner as a result of the adaptation.


Throughout this study, we have witnessed a chain of imitation, from Saint John Chrysostom imitating Saint Paul, to Saint Paul imitating Christ (while at the same time calling on his churches to imitate himself ). Lines of continuity also connect Gospel traditions of Jesus as Teacher and the pedagogical traditions we have been tracing in Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Paul. We see this connection particularly clearly in the Gospel of Matthew, which exhibits a rich ethos of learning as integral to being a follower of Jesus. In Matthew, Jesus calls everyone (just like Paul did) to imitate himself, the Teacher. Furthermore, when Jesus teaches in Matthew, he uses tropes and metaphors from Jewish tradition, which yields no separation between hearing and doing, or learning and performing. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus profoundly revered learning as a mode of discipleship, and teaching the commandments as a way of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:20).26 Matthew’s icon of Jesus as Teacher vividly captures the image of Jesus inviting all to follow him by imitating him. He justified this call to him as Teacher on the basis of his being the “gentle and humble in heart” Teacher, offering them in return the light “yoke” of his instruction, and rest for their souls (11:28–30). Jesus taught his followers and his opponents by what he said and how he said it. What emerges is an iconic image of a master Teacher whose judgments about the commandments are immersed in empathy, and whose disciples are charged to imitate him through teaching these commandments to all Christians.27 While the verb “to teach” is sparingly used

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of Jesus in the four gospels and Acts, it is abundantly clear that throughout the five major discourses28 in Matthew, and with each story about him, he was always teaching—calling people to follow him in discipleship.29 In addition, we learn from Jesus that teaching and doing the commandments were inseparable. Thus, the content of education and its application (both for teachers and for students) were a unity—the latter validating the truth of the former. Learning and Doing

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall! (Matt. 7:24–27) We witness in the New Testament that the goal of learning/teaching is not knowledge for its own sake, but to “follow a life” through the gentle, embodied instruction of a teacher, and to therefore “bear fruit” from one’s learning, both for our own sakes and for others. This praxisoriented understanding of learning and teaching is not an innovation on the part of Matthew, or his community. Rather, the phrase “hearing and doing” is language at home in the Old Testament and later Wisdom Literature when a writer is speaking about torah (the commandments). Matthew’s understanding of hearing and keeping the torah is completely in continuity with how this communal activity is described in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms and Prophets.

Learning Torah and the Legacy of Jewish Pedagogy in Early Christianity

The primary verb for learning in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is manthanō, which usually translates the Hebrew verb lamad.30 In the Old Testament, this verb (both in Greek and Hebrew)


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carries with it the characteristics of two different English words, both “to learn” and “to observe/apply.” So, the full scope of the word “to learn” in Greek and Hebrew includes both the activity of learning and application. In the book of Deuteronomy, for example, the object of the verb “to learn” is very often either the “fear of God” (e.g., Deut. 4:10) or the “ordinances of God.”31 For example, Deuteronomy 5:1 reads: “Moses convened all Israel, and said to them: Hear, O Israel, the statutes and ordinances that I am addressing to you today; you shall learn them and observe them diligently.”32 Here, learning the ordinances is closely linked, but not necessarily identical, to doing them. Learning and doing are two steps within an integrated process, the latter being a natural result of the former.33 The Psalms employ the metaphor of “the path of God,” and associate learning (and therefore teaching) with behavior and not just knowledge.34 For example, in Psalm 25 this metaphor occurs in five verses (Ps. 25:4, 8, 9, 10, 12); two examples will suffice: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.” (Ps. 25:4–5) “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.” (Ps. 25:9) Here, God himself is the One who teaches or reveals his ways; those who are led in his ways are not the proud, but the humble, oppressed, or gentle. It is also abundantly evident that learning “the way of the Lord” within the Old Testament and Second Temple Jewish literature is equivalent to learning and keeping the torah. The phrase “knowing the ways of the Lord” includes two aspects of knowledge which in other cultures, including our own, are not necessarily integrated: (1) the knowledge of his law and (2) the desire to observe it.35  Isaiah makes the inextricable connection between learning and responsive, righteous action even more vivid. The prophet varies the cadence of learning, utilizing the verb lamad directly with an action. For example, he brings a testimony against Israel for its injustices, asking the

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heavens and the earth to bear witness to his incriminating testimony. In this context of oracular testimony against the nation, Isaiah accuses the people of having “blood on their hands” while they are lifting their hands to the Lord in prayer (1:15). It is in this context that the Lord gives several commands through Isaiah: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (1:16–17).  By saying “learn to do good” and “seek justice,” Isaiah has transformed words that belong to the domain of learning from the private to the public domain, showing that “learning” and “seeking” are complex verbs that are authenticated by virtuous actions, that is—righteousness. Isaiah actually employs the phrase “learn righteousness” (26:9).36 This chapter is a song of victory37 of “the righteous nation that keeps faith” (26:2). Verse 9 reads, “My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” It is remarkable that learning is equated here with an action (“doing righteous acts”).38 In the next verse (26:10), Isaiah continues to emphasize righteousness as the object of learning, by stating his message in a negative way: “If favor is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness.” Here, the integral relationship between learning and doing is clear. The one who does not learn righteousness is prevented because of doing wicked deeds. This is the same pedagogical milieu as is reflected in the Gospel of Matthew, which utilizes the language of learning and righteousness in the same breath. For the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is the Teacher who embodies his revealed instruction and invites his students to embody the same, through his focus on the needs of others (by being merciful) and his humility (by being open to assessing each situation rather than prejudging it).


The word chosen for those who followed Jesus most closely was the word translated “disciple” (mathētēs), which, interestingly, is from the same root word as the verb “to learn” (manthanō), which was discussed above.


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Despite the ubiquity of the noun “disciple,” its cognate verb “to learn” is found surprisingly few times.39 The verb that is frequently used to convey becoming a disciple is the verb “to follow” (akoloutheō).40 In the three instances where the verb “to learn” is employed in Matthew, one in particular reveals another important aspect of the teaching/learning process, that is, the aspect of mimēsis (imitation). This word occurs in one of the most memorable sayings of Jesus, in which he invites all to come and learn from him (Matt. 11:28–30): “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30). Jesus’ self-description as “gentle and humble in heart” functions in at least two distinct, yet related ways: First, Jesus is drawing a distinction between himself and the Pharisees.41 Second, Jesus’ saying that he is “gentle and humble in heart” may have functioned as the model that his disciples should strive to imitate.42 As Celia Deutsch explains, “the designation suggests that the disciple must also assume the gentleness and lowliness of the master. In other words, the disciple must learn from Jesus a pattern of life as well as a verbal instruction.”43 How exactly are these traits of gentleness and humility linked to Jesus’ command “learn from me?” How specifically do they relate to the teaching of Jesus and his identity as the disciples’ teacher? In Matthew, within the literary setting of rejection and controversy, Jesus’ words of invitation to come to his school and receive training under his tutelage are offered to all who have “ears to hear” (Matt. 11:25–27).44 Jesus’ invitation is given in two parts, both of which end with the same promise: “You will receive rest for your souls.” The two sections are two invitations: (1) “come”; and (2) “take up my yoke and learn from me.” These two invitations are presented in the form of a synonymous parallelism,45 therefore indicating that to receive Jesus’ yoke is closely related, if not identical, to receiving and following his instruction.46 It was a commonplace at the time of Matthew’s Gospel that the word “yoke” could stand metaphorically for a teacher’s instruction, especially in terms of teaching the law. So Jesus would be asking them to submit themselves to his teaching of the law (as compared to the teaching of others).47 Sirach 51 offers a beautiful, graphic demonstration of the use of “yoke” as a metaphor for

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“receiving instruction.” Here divine Wisdom leads her seekers with a yoke along her path, and therefore away from the paths of unrighteousness;48 the author invites Wisdom’s students, “Put your feet into her fetters and your neck into her collar” (Sir. 6:24; see Sir. 6:24–30). For the purposes of this essay on early Christian models of education, it might be instructive to focus momentarily on these metaphors of Jesus and the writer of Sirach; the yoke, the fetters, and the collar are what we might today call “formative” in that they literally “re-form the person” who submits to the wisdom of the pedagogue. In the case of the yoke, the image of “following” or “imitating” is even more vivid. From an uncharitable perspective, this kind of “knowledge” is de-forming, making the person conform through restriction. But a more charitable reading would acknowledge the all-encompassing nature of this kind of pedagogy. Like Jacob, who wrestled with the angel at Peniel throughout the night, and begged him to bless him before departing at dawn (Gen. 32:22–33), embodied models of education are disfiguring in a transformative way,49 affecting the way we walk from that point onward. Imitation of the Gentle and Humble Teacher

Imitation of a teacher who is dictatorial could be a recipe for disaster. This is why authority is circumscribed by both gentleness and humility at the time that Jesus calls everyone to his school, since he is “gentle and humble” (Matt. 11:29). The word translated here as “gentle” (praus in Greek) is the same word that is usually translated as “meek” in one of the eight beatitudes in Matthew: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” ( 5:5); this same word “meek” (praus) is also one of the key descriptors for Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem: “Your king comes to you, meek, and sitting upon a donkey” (Matt. 21:5, quoting Zech. 9:9).50 How, then, were the words “meek” (or “gentle”) and “humble” understood? The meaning seems to lie within the area of restraint, mercy, and leniency towards those under one’s authority; however, when these words are used to describe those who are subjected either to oppressive circumstances (i.e., the poor) or to harsh treatment by those in authority over them, the meaning lies more in the domain of long-suffering, trusting in God for deliverance, and keeping silence. In the case of Jesus, both


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of these linguistic domains can be seen, for he was both the suffering servant who went to his death forgiving his tormentors in silence (Isa. 53) and the master, king, and teacher who was patient, merciful, and showing loving-kindness “as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” (Matt. 23:37). So it seems that the factor of power is determinative for the domain of meaning for the words translated as “humble” and “meek/gentle.” When this factor is applied to the specific domain of teaching and learning, its meaning is this: despite the teacher’s having authority (power) over the student, the teacher is the merciful and gentle guide.51 The Gospel of Matthew is quite deliberate in showcasing two Sabbath controversy stories immediately following the saying of Jesus that we have been treating.52 He offers these two stories as examples of Jesus’ gentleness and humility, specifically with respect to judging how to navigate the laws governing the Sabbath in specific cases where individuals are suffering and can be made whole again on the Sabbath. Matthew, as a student of Jesus, teaches us by example how Jesus himself embodied gentleness and humility, by both a rigorous understanding of the law and a compassionate eye for the particular people who were lacking rest. Jesus was willing to suffer criticism for his judgments that God desired “mercy and not sacrifice” in these particular cases of gathering grain on the Sabbath (when the disciples were hungry) and healing the man with the withered hand in the synagogue (Matt. 12:1–14). It is marvelous how even in the writing of the Gospels, the students of Jesus use his methods to show us not just his teaching, but his actions (how he filled up the teaching by his performance of his own teaching). This application of mercy (eleos) as a criterion when making legal (halakic) decisions is a manifestation of Jesus being “gentle and humble of heart,” indicating that it is by the criterion of mercy that Jesus arrives at his decisions about applying the Sabbath Law.53


Matthew wrote a vivid icon of Jesus as the gentle and humble Teacher of the commandments, commandments that Jesus then commissioned his disciples to pass on through imitation of him. The “yoke” of his com-

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mandments is identified with performing the law and the prophets, which reveals a situational hierarchy of the “weightier and lighter” commandments, which were differentiated by mercy and empathy for each person whom Jesus met. He did not abrogate the received mosaic law, as he stresses in Matthew 5:17, but he sifted it through the screen of gentleness, humility, and mercy. So his call to all to come and become his students (Matt. 11:28–30) included the virtues of gentleness and humility that “in-formed” his amazing insight into the torah and how it should be applied to each and every person. By referring to the instruction in his school as a “yoke,” he carried forward the tradition of the Old Testament and the Wisdom writings that learning is validated by its application and right action, in the same way that a yoke leads its carrier along a certain desired path. So when Jesus calls us to learn from him, he calls us not to knowledge (as the word is typically used) but to a way of learning that continually imitates him (in his gentleness and humility), and that leads to acts of mercy towards those whom we serve. So many applications could be drawn from this portrayal of Jesus as the gentle Teacher for students and teachers today. One such impression that emerges from this icon of Jesus is how he includes himself as a part of what the student is learning (“learn from me, for I am gentle . . .”). As teachers, we may reflect on this phenomenon of embodied knowledge, and the degree to which we are enacting in ourselves the things we are teaching, which might include continuing to occupy ourselves in our own academic pursuits, as we have invited our students to do in their studies. In other words, Jesus’ teaching integrates learning with doing, and content with mentorship. Finally, the qualities of gentleness and humility are ones that typified Jesus’ interactions with everyone with whom he came into contact, enabling him to see in each situation what “doing good” would look like. The combination of high standards (the torah) and mercy or leniency is one that we might reflect on as educators. With the recent stress on education to be more “effective,” focusing on the needs of each student may be one way that we can model the pedagogy of Jesus, the gentle Teacher. What are some of the implications for the integrated understanding of learning as both knowledge and application? This synergism might apply not only to the student, but to the teacher as well. This model


Bruce N. Beck

would invite us today to ponder more deliberately how learning/teaching can find embodiment or actualization, so that our learning is validated by its embodiment in us and in our students. Indeed, this study raises a challenge for us as professors—indeed, a calling: that we live and teach in an integral way that would be worthy of imitation, seeking ways that we might humbly and transparently embody our subject areas for the sake of our students. This challenge is not limited to religious studies, or to the humanities/liberal arts, but is rather a more universal question of how we teach our students regardless of our academic discipline. We might ask how much of learning is bound up with the actions, words, attitudes, and engagement of the teacher both in the classroom and outside of it. My own experience has moved me in this direction, as I contemplate with profound gratitude the gifts I received from my own professors, many of which are inextricably tied up with who they were and how they interacted with my classmates and me. I think I understand more now why it is a good thing to give ourselves to our students as we offer them the subject matter of the course, so that what they receive is an embodied knowledge, inspiring them to enact what they learn in themselves. Moreover, the calling might also include stressing our indebtedness to our professors and other scholars who taught us what we are now offering to our students—an attitude of humility towards the academic task itself. As Paul says to the Corinthians, “I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received” (1 Cor. 15:3; Cf. 11:23). This posture stands as a model for the way scholarship and research might proceed in the contemporary academic climate. This essay is an example of retrieval of an Orthodox Christian pedagogical paradigm of the Teacher, who is not only the subject who reveals knowledge, but also the object whom the students imitate as embodying this knowledge. Therefore, in the act of teaching, we might consider including ourselves more self-consciously within the scope of what is being learned. How do we model what we are teaching? How do we wish for our students to apply this knowledge, and what does that look like in particular ways? This early Christian and Orthodox pedagogical tradition that we have been tracing in these pages might well challenge us as professors to further embody our subject areas before our students, adapting our language and mode of instruction to fit their individual needs,

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then modeling it for them, and accompanying them as they strive to integrate it for themselves. The implications of this pedagogical practice of imitation, circumscribed by adaptive, self-emptying methods, has farreaching implications for education today, as we reach our students not just through knowledge transferred but knowledge embodied with passion and goodwill. NOTES Unless otherwise noted, all translations of scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version. 1. The Greek word I have in mind here is usually translated “humility.” However, when Paul and Jesus show humility, it is often more akin to an action, rather than a state of mind. 2. Saint John Chrysostom was exiled by a hostile Synod to Pontus in 403; then after a brief return due to the outcry of the people, he was exiled again in 404 by the Empress Theodosia, this time to a more remote location (to Caucasus). He reposed on September 14, 407. The Great Horologion (Boston: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1997), 310–11. 3. John Chrysostom, prologue to the Epistle to the Romans, trans. Panayiotis Papageorgiou, in Homilies on Romans: St. John Chrysostom (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2013), 1:1. I am indebted to Margaret Mitchell for bringing this text to my attention (The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation [Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002]). 4. Chrysostom, prologue to the Epistle to the Romans, 1:1. 5. Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 39–40. Similarly, Mitchell also refers to John’s hermeneutic as a “reading of resuscitation” as Saint John endeavored to introduce to his flock the Paul he knew and loved through his sermons. Ibid., 1, 13, 28. 6. Ibid., 39–40. 7. Saint John discusses this proposition of Paul’s surpassing virtue in Homily 1 in a collection known as De laudibus sancti Pauli (In praise of Paul). See translation in Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 442–47, which is based on the Greek text in Panégyriques de S. Paul, ed. August Piédagnel, Sources chrétiennes 300 (Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1982), 112–40. 8. John Chrysostom, Panégyriques de S. Paul. A recent translation of these seven homilies may be found in appendix 1 of Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet, 442–87.


Bruce N. Beck

9. John Chrysostom, Homily 2, in ibid., 448. 10. Ibid., 452. 11. This verse comes just before the quote that Saint John gave, cited above, about the current affliction being light compared to the weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17). So there is no doubt for Paul or for Saint John that Jesus is the archetype for all those who follow him, and from him there are many saints whom the church also views as worthy of imitation. Saint John considers Saint Paul as preeminent among the saints for the purposes of imitation. 12. Mitchell, Heavenly Trumpet. 13. The word synkatábasis literally means “condescension,” but today it is better rendered as “adaptation,” “accommodation,” or “deference.” It was used in the title of a 1999 dissertation by David Rylaarsdam to describe a foundational characteristic of both Saint Paul’s and Saint John Chrysostom’s pedagogy: “The Adaptability of Divine Pedagogy: Sunkatabasis in the Theology and Rhetoric of John Chrysostom” (University of Notre Dame). It was published in 2014 as John Chrysostom on Divine Pedagogy: The Coherence of His Theology and Preaching (Oxford: Oxford University Press). 14. Jaclyn Maxwell, Christianization and Communication in Late Antiquity: John Chrysostom and His Congregation in Antioch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), esp. the chapter “Teaching to the Converted: John Chrysostom’s Pedagogy,” 88–117, esp. 91. 15. Ibid., 91. See also her quote (92) from De Lazaro 3.1 (PG 48:991), where Saint John tells his congregation he is intentionally breaking his teachings into small portions, as one gives a baby increments of food so that the baby will not spit it up. 16. Rylaarsdam, John Chrysostom on Divine Pedagogy, 214–15. 17. Rylaarsdam says, “Given his [John’s] emphasis on theological knowledge and his own general intelligence and level of education, Chrysostom’s theological reserve in his homilies is striking. His theology of divine pedagogy, then a theological principle, ironically, lies behind Chrysostom’s apparent lack of theology.” Ibid., 215. 18. John Chrysostom, Six Books on the Priesthood, trans. G. Neville, 2.4 (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996), 57 (PG 272:114). 19. Rylaarsdam, John Chrysostom on Divine Pedagogy, 215. 20. This is my abridged paraphrase of Neville’s translation in Chrysostom, Six Books on the Priesthood, 57. 21. This is the language that Saint Paul uses when he discusses the topic of eating food offered to idols. See 1 Cor. 8:9–11. Verse 11 reads, “So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed.”

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22. This translation follows Neville’s translation of Chrysostom in Six Books on the Priesthood, 57. 23. “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). 24. Cf. Rylaarsdam, John Chrysostom on Divine Pedagogy, section entitled “Becoming All Things to All People,” 166–70, for a more detailed analysis. 25. John Chrysostom, Homily 22, 5 (on 1 Cor. 9:21), trans. Talbot W. Chambers, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first series, edited by Philip Schaff (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1889), rev. and ed. for New Advent by Kevin Knight, 12:128, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/ 220122.htm. 26. I am indebted to my professor Bishop Krister Stendahl, previous bishop of Stockholm, and professor of New Testament at Harvard Divinity School, who contributed significantly to our understanding of the community in which the Gospel of Matthew was edited and written. His published doctoral dissertation, The School of St. Matthew, and Its Use of the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968), brought widespread attention to the Old Testament quotations in Matthew and gave further evidence to a developing scholarly consensus that the Gospel of Matthew is not just the product of a brilliant and educated author, but reflects rather the work of a school or academy of Scripture study (ibid., 205–6). 27. Jesus’ final “testament” to his disciples, the so-called Great Commission, charges them, “As you go, make disciples of all the gentiles, baptizing them . . . and teaching them to observe all that I commanded to you” (Matt. 28:19–20; trans. mine). Thus the two aspects of making a disciple are first, to bring gentiles into the community of faith through baptism, and second, to be occupied with teaching them the commandments of Jesus. When we investigate the intersection of Jesus and torah in Matthew, a culture of education comes into focus. Matthew preserves through the teaching and commandments of Jesus a didactic or catechetical process of passing on these commandment-oriented sayings of Jesus, thus offering us a rare glimpse of an ancient Christian community whose self-identity was tied to learning and teaching the “torah of Christ” (cf. Gal. 6:2, Paul’s phrase “the law of Christ”). 28. A vast majority of scholars concur on the observation that Matthew has arranged the sayings of Jesus into five distinct discourses. For example, the longest, and most well-known of these discourses, the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1–7:29), both begins and ends by naming Jesus’ activity as teaching. Then this first discourse of Matthew ends with the concluding formulaic statement, “Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes”


Bruce N. Beck

(Matt. 7:28–29; emphasis added). Matthew uses a similar formulaic expression to conclude each of the five discourses: “And when Jesus had finished . . .” For a convenient listing of these discourses, see C. H. Talbert, Matthew, Paideia (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 6–8. 29. The verb “teach” appears at the end of the first two of these discourses (7:29; 11:1), as well as in several instances where Matthew is emphasizing that Jesus was teaching in the synagogue or temple (4:23; 21:23; 26:55). 30. This Hebrew stem can mean either “to learn” or “to teach,” depending on its lexical form. 31. K. H. Rengstorf, “manthanō,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 4:400–406, section entitled “manthanō in the Old Testament and Judaism.” 32. Cf. Deut. 17:19: “It shall remain with him and he shall read in it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, diligently observing all the words of this law and these statutes.” 33. Likewise, in the Psalms, esp. Ps. 119 (118 LXX), learning God’s statutes is a frequent refrain (e.g., 119:71). 34. Rengstorf acknowledges this aspect of the verb lamad in “manthanō.” 35. Cf. Jer. 5:5, where the prophet recalls saying to himself, “Let me go to the rich and speak to them; surely they know the way of the Lord, the law of their God.” Then he answers himself: “But they all alike had broken the yoke, they had burst the bonds.” Other examples include Josh. 22:5; Exod. 18:20; Ps. 119:1; Mic. 4:2; Isa. 2:3; 42:24. 36. Isa. 26:9b is the beginning of the fifth biblical ode of the LXX. This ode serves as the persistent foundation of the fifth ode in the service of Orthros in the services of the Byzantine Rite. Both Isa. 26:1–22 and Wis. 6:11–20 resonate with the Matt. 11 saying about learning from Jesus. The ending point for Wis. 6 (v. 20) is to be led into the kingdom (of God), which would include protection from enemies, therefore achieving a state of rest (“rest” is the primary definition of the word in the LXX that is usually translated “protection”), again resonating with Jesus’ saying “Come to me, you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). 37. Isa. 26:1–21. This victory song of Isaiah also contains one of only two examples in the LXX where both “meek” and “humble” are used in the same phrase, as they also occur in Matt. 11:28–30. See below for discussion of these words. 38. In the LXX, the verb “to learn” is in the imperative rather than the indicative: “Learn righteousness, you who dwell on the earth.” The Orthodox Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008), 1017.

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39. The word manthanō is used only seven times in the Gospels and Acts, three of which occur in Matthew (9:13; 11:29; 24:32). 40. Cf. Michael J. Wilkins, The Concept of Disciple in Matthew’s Gospel: As Reflected in the Use of the Term [Mathēté¯s], Supplements to Novum Testamentum 59 (Leiden: Brill, 1988), 158–59, who cites Rengstorf, “manthanō,” 416. 41. Cf. Matt. 23:5–12 and 6:1–18. In Matthew’s Gospel, the Pharisees receive respect for their authority as teachers of the law of Moses (23:1–4) and for their deeds of righteousness (alms, fasting, and prayer [5:20; 6:1–18]), but some of their ways have become a divisive stumbling block for Jesus and his followers; namely, their deeds should not be imitated, “for they do not practice what they teach” (23:3b); and they practice their good deeds in very public ways (23:5; 6:1–7); and, lastly, they are criticized in Matthew for their not understanding the relative hierarchy of the laws, which allowed Jesus to distinguish, through oikonomia (merciful judgments), the more “weighty laws” from the “lighter laws.” See also v. 23: “You have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” 42. Celia Deutsch, Hidden Wisdom and the Easy Yoke: Wisdom, Torah and Discipleship in Matthew 11.25–30, Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series 18 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987), 45. 43. Deutsch, Hidden Wisdom and the Easy Yoke, 45 (emphasis added); she relies here on the article by H. D. Betz, “The Logion of the Easy Yoke and of Rest (Mt 11:28–30),” Journal of Biblical Literature 86 (1967): 23. Betz himself relies on a monograph by G. Strecker, Der Weg der Gerrechtigheit, Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments 82 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962), 174. Betz mentions that Jesus often talks about humility—such as is exhibited by children—as something to be imitated. See Matt. 5:5; 18:4; 21:5; 23:12. 44. Just prior to this invitation, Jesus offered a prayer of thanksgiving to the Father for those who were teachable, rather than dwelling on those who were not. The towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum have each been upbraided by Jesus (11:20–24) for not having responded to his mighty works. It is then, when even his home town (Capernaum) has refused to receive him, that he offers a prayer of thanksgiving to his heavenly Father, thanking him that though the wise and educated have not been able to recognize him as God’s emissary, the babes of this world are being drawn in by his “mighty deeds” and his preaching of the kingdom (11:25). 45. Deutsch, Hidden Wisdom and the Easy Yoke, 40. 46. There is a close parallel to this saying of Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas (logion 90), which reads: “Come to me, for my yoke is easy and my mastery is gentle, and you will find rest for yourselves.” Marvin Meyer, ed. and


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trans., The Gospel of Thomas (San Francisco: Harper, 1992), 59, quoted in Deirdre J. Good, Jesus the Meek King (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1999), 7. Here the entire middle section of the saying in Matthew is missing, including the naming of who is invited (“all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens” [11:28]) and the second command (“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart” [11:29]). For an analysis of this saying in both Matthew and the Gospel of Thomas, see April D. De Conick, “The Yoke Saying in the ‘Gospel of Thomas 90,’” Vigiliae Christianae 44, no. 3 (September 1990): 280–94. 47. See Deutsch, Hidden Wisdom and the Easy Yoke, 43nn145–46; also M. J. Suggs, Wisdom, Christology, and Law in Matthew’s Gospel (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), 99–105. 48. See esp. Sir. 51:23–30, and esp. v. 26: “Put your neck under her yoke, and let your souls receive instruction; it is to be found close by.” See also B. Viviano, Study as Worship: Aboth and the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 1978), 191–92. 49. The angel touched Jacob’s thigh as they wrestled, thus wounding him; thereafter Jacob walked with a limp. 50. My translation; emphasis added. See here Good, Jesus the Meek King. 51. For examples of how praus (the word usually translated “meek”) is used in the classical and Hellenistic Greek literature, see the article in Ceslas Spicq, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, trans. James D. Ernest (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 3:160–67. Of particular interest for education, Plato’s Gorgias offers a helpful example: the “teacher learns praotes (meekness) by remaining patient in the face of errors and objections of his interlocutors: ‘Only put more mildness into your teaching so as not to force me to abandon it.’” Spicq, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, 3:163–64, quoting Plato, Gorgias 489d. 52. In addition to the fact that the two stories follow immediately after the saying, the strongest element that links the saying to the two stories is the word “rest” in the saying and the word “Sabbath” in the stories that follow. These two terms are practically synonyms, since the word “Sabbath” (shabbat in Hebrew) means “to rest,” that is, to remember that it was on the seventh day that God rested, and so therefore all should rest on the seventh day. Cf. S. Bacchiocchi, “Matthew 11:28–30: Jesus’ Rest and the Sabbath,” Andrews University Seminary Series 22 (1984): 289–316. Already in the book of Hebrews, the Sabbath is used as an allusion to entering into the rest of God (Heb. 4:8–10); this sermon in Hebrews (3:15–4:11) is founded on Psalm 95 (94 LXX), in which God swears an oath against those who wandered in the wilderness for forty years: “‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways.’ Therefore in my anger I swore, ‘They shall not enter my rest’” (Ps. 95:10). So, therefore, for

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Matthew to place two stories of Jesus healing on the Sabbath, the day of rest, immediately following a saying about “finding rest for your souls” is both purposeful and ingenious. This method of ordering or grouping things by theme is not unusual for this gospel. For an excellent example of a treatment of the literary aspects of Matthew’s Gospel, see Talbert, Matthew, 110–12, which aptly demonstrates that Matt. 8-9 is composed of three triads of miracle stories. 53. This concept, within Eastern Orthodoxy, is referred to as oikonomia, which means the application of the canons of the church for any particular situation by the priest or bishop.



P L U N D E R I N G TH E E G YPT IA N S The Use of Classical Paideia in the Early Church

J ohn B ehr

The issue of the place of learning in Christianity is both contentious and old. Christianity is a religion of revelation: Jesus Christ has come into the world to make known his Father by the Spirit; and this has from the beginning, for some, been taken to imply that Christians need have nothing to do with learning, with the disciplines of human knowledge, with culture—with what the world has to offer. Christianity is not of this world, and should have nothing to do with it: don’t think, just repeat— preserve! A number of figures in early Christianity adopted this posture of protest against worldly learning. The most famous must be Tertullian (c. 160–c. 225), at the end of the second century, who asked: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” He then continues: What concord is there between the Academy and the Church? what between heretics and Christians? Our instruction comes from “the porch of Solomon” [cf. Acts 3:5], who had himself taught that “the 140

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Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart” [Wis. 1:1]. Away with all attempts to produce a mottled Christianity of Stoic, Platonic and dialectical composition! We want no curious disputation after possessing Christ Jesus, no inquisition after enjoying the gospel! With our faith, we desire no further belief.1 We encounter this attitude all too often today. Many voices clamor against Athens—against learning, diligent scholarship, studying secular disciplines; don’t think, just repeat—preserve! But there is also a world of difference between the ancient figures such as Tertullian and many of those who adopt this posture today. When Tertullian, and others like him, make such comments, they do so as highly educated intellectuals, who know, intimately, the culture—especially the philosophical and rhetorical culture—in which they live. And, for all their posturing, they continue to use it. The very statement of Tertullian—“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”—by its rhetorical elegance, betrays the fact that Tertullian’s own thinking still runs along classical lines. In fact, one need not look far in Tertullian’s writings to see that he is heavily influenced by all sorts of philosophical thinking—especially Stoicism. Similarly, a little later on in the same treatise, Tertullian claims there is no point in discussing the interpretation of scripture with the heretics, as it will only produce an upset stomach and brain (unless one has shared first principles, no real discussion can actually occur). But this doesn’t stop him from spending most of his life writing pamphlets against the various heretics, in which the interpretation of scripture is the key point. Such language is hyperbolic polemic (exaggeration) to make a point, but not to be taken straightforwardly.


However, an alternative approach to learning and culture is found in the early church that, I would argue, represents the central tradition of the church throughout the ages. This position states explicitly what Tertullian does, even if he speaks polemically otherwise.


John Behr

We first see this position laid out with Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–c. 215). In his works, we see a massive appropriation of pagan Greek learning. Clement is a man steeped in classical culture—in paideia— the full education, enculturation, and civilization of the whole person. In many ways, he presents Christianity in similar terms—as the education of the whole person. He has left us a trilogy: beginning with the Protrepticus—an exhortation addressed to the Greeks (pagans), using their own mythology and rhetoric to encourage them to convert to Christianity; this was followed by the Pedagogue—three books of instruction, detailing every aspect of proper behavior for a gentleperson in the lateancient world (everything from how to walk and to speak to servants, to tips on how to avoid belching at table!); and, finally, his seven books of miscellaneous notes called the Stromata—written for the more educated Christian—which argued various points of philosophy (in dialogue with practically every philosopher from the ancient world) and utilized every other aspect of knowledge, from astronomy to zoology. The next main figure in Alexandria, and the one who left the greatest fingerprint on later Christianity—despite being condemned several centuries after his death—is Origen (c. 184–c. 253). We have a unique insight into the education provided by Origen, as we have a letter from Origen to Gregory (later Gregory the Wonderworker—the Thaumaturgus [c. 213–c. 270]) before the latter became a pupil of Origen and, from a few years later, an oration of thanks from Saint Gregory to Origen. The letter of Origen to Gregory the Wonderworker was preserved for us by Saints Basil the Great (c. 329–379) and Gregory the Theologian (c. 329–c. 389) in  the compilation they made of their favorite passages from Origen, called the Philocalia (to be distinguished from Nicodemus the Hagiorite’s work of the same title). In this letter, Origen provides the scriptural image that thereafter became the classic reference point for justifying this use of pagan Greek culture—the image of the Israelites plundering the Egyptians. Origen begins by encouraging the young Gregory to study; he has enough natural ability, Origen asserts, to become an expert in Roman law or a philosopher in a Greek school. But, Origen continues: I am very desirous that you should accept such parts even of Greek philosophy as may serve for the ordinary elementary instruction of

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our schools, and be a kind of preparation for Christianity: also those portions of geometry and astronomy likely to be of use in the interpretation of the sacred Scriptures, so that, what the pupils of the philosophers say about geometry and music, grammar, rhetoric and astronomy, that is, that they are the handmaidens of philosophy, we may say of philosophy itself in relation to Christianity.2 That is, all human learning is to be brought to whatever use it may offer to theology; just as the basic disciplines of grammar, rhetoric, geometry, astronomy, and music are there to prepare the student to study philosophy, so all these disciplines, including philosophy itself, are there to serve theology. Theology is, as the Middle Ages would put it, the queen of the sciences. Origen then suggests a scriptural warrant for this: Perhaps something of this kind is hinted at in the command from the mouth of God himself that the children of Israel be told to ask their neighbors and companions for vessels of silver and gold (Exod. 11.2; 12.35ff ), and for clothing, so that by spoiling [plundering] the Egyptians they might find materials to make the things, of which they were told, for the divine service. For out of the spoils which the children of Israel took from the Egyptians came the contents of the Holy of Holies, the ark with its cover, and the Cherubim, and the mercy-seat, and the golden pot wherein was treasured up the manna, the angels’ bread. These things were made from the best of the Egyptian gold.3 Origen then carries on, suggesting that the second-best gold was used to make the candlesticks, the third- and fourth-best gold other items, and so on—the point is clear. This image of plundering the Egyptians thereafter becomes the standard for the way in which Christians were to use the best of what the world has to offer—the paideia by which we are educated to understand more abstract matters and have our character formed into a suitable form—taking all this and appropriating it for Christianity (a cultural takeover bid).4 In the Oration of Thanksgiving to Origen by Saint Gregory the Wonderworker, we are given a very touching picture of Origen as a teacher, and also of the entire curriculum of studies that he offered his students.


John Behr

It encompassed the whole range of human knowledge and learning: mathematics, geometry, astronomy, cosmology, physiology, and especially philosophy and literature. He assigned them to study all the philosophers (he didn’t simply present those parts of the ones he agreed with) and, likewise, the full range of literature—all the while, making sure his students could navigate their way through the material, discerning right from wrong, truth from error, and through all of this sharpening their critical acumen, their skills of thinking and discernment. Origen made sure that his students studied the original sources. Rather than simply imparting information to his students, or answering their questions, his goal was to teach them to think. There was to his students, Gregory says, “no forbidden subject of speech; for there was no matter of knowledge hidden or inaccessible to us, but we had it in our power to learn every kind of discourse, both foreign and Greek, both spiritual and political, both divine and human.”5 Having pursued all these studies, Origen’s students then turned to the scriptures, now knowing how to read and understand literature, knowing what kind of disciplines one needs in order to be able to encounter the Word of God in the often obscure and enigmatic words of scripture. This education was not simply an intellectual affair—Origen was concerned with their spiritual formation. It would have been inconceivable to separate these two aspects of paideia. It was not enough to be able to speak about a subject: the student had to strive, Gregory recalled, to attain “the practical accomplishment of the thing expressed.” He educated us to prudence none the less—teaching us to be at home with ourselves, and to desire and endeavor to know ourselves, which indeed is the most excellent achievement of philosophy, the thing that is ascribed also to the most prophetic of spirits as the highest argument of wisdom—the precept Know thyself. And that this is the genuine function of prudence is affirmed well by the ancients; for in this there is one virtue common to God and man; while the soul is exercised in beholding itself as in a mirror, and reflects the divine mind in itself (if it is worthy of such a relation) and traces out a certain inexpressible method for the attaining of a kind of [deification].6

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This emphasis on literature and words is not accidental. Origen formed his students by his words, such that his students became keenly aware of the power of words: it is logos that differentiates us from brute animals; it is by logos that we become human (and as Saint Irenaeus [c. 130–c. 202] reminds us, we must first become human before we can be deified); it is logos that we have in common with God; it is through logoi that we communicate with each other; it is with his words that a teacher teaches and a spiritual guide guides, words that are demonstrated to be trustworthy by the manner of life of the speaker—yet words that also persuade us of his trustworthiness. Given this importance of words, our greatest task as human beings is to study the art of words. As Gregory puts it, “For a mighty and energetic thing is the discourse of man”; it enters through the ears and molds the mind, impressing or shaping us by what it conveys, so that it takes possession of us and wins us over to the love of truth.7 Saint Gregory the Wonderworker brought Christianity to Cappadocia and instructed the grandparents of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335–c. 395). Saint Basil, in his turn, also wrote a treatise on this topic: An Address to the Young on How They Might Derive Benefit from Reading Pagan Literature. Saint Basil studied extensively in Cappadocia and in Athens, where he met Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, both of them devoted to their studies. Even when they returned home (after a number of years in Athens—it wasn’t a year abroad!), they did what all cultured gentlemen of the time would have done: they went on retreat together, to devote themselves to more study. Here they read Origen, who inspired them with a more sophisticated understanding of Christianity than they had known, and they made a compilation of their favorite passages of his works—the Philocalia. After the death of Saint Basil, Saint Gregory the Theologian delivered a long oration (well worth reading), in which he described their life together. Near the beginning of this oration—in order to preempt any objections to his warm recollections of their golden days together in Athens—he put his case in no uncertain terms: I take it as admitted by men of sense, that the first of our advantages is education (παίδευσις [paideusis]); and not only this our more


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noble form of it, which disregards rhetorical ornaments and glory, and holds to salvation, and beauty in the objects of our contemplation: but even that external culture which many Christians illjudgingly abhor, as treacherous and dangerous, and keeping us afar from God. For we ought not to neglect the heavens, and earth, and air, and all such things, because some have wrongly seized upon them, and honor God’s works instead of God: but instead [we ought] to reap what advantage we can from them for our life and enjoyment, while avoiding their dangers; not raising creation, as foolish men do, in revolt against the Creator, but from the works of nature apprehending the Worker, and, as the divine apostle says, bringing into captivity every thought to Christ: and again, as we know that neither fire, nor food, nor iron, nor any other of the elements, is of itself most useful, or most harmful, except according to the will of those who use it; and as we have mixed healthful drugs from certain of the reptiles, so from secular literature we have received principles of enquiry and contemplation (τὸ μὲν ἐξεταστικόν τε καὶ θεωρητικὸν ἐδεξάμεθα [to men exetastikon te kai theōrētikon edexametha]), while we have rejected their idolatry, terror, and pit of destruction. Even these have aided us in our religion, by our perception of the contrast between what is worse and what is better, and by gaining strength for our doctrine from the weakness of theirs. We must not then dishonor education, because some men are pleased to do so, but rather suppose such men to be boorish and uneducated, desiring all men to be as they themselves are, in order to hide themselves in the general, and escape the detection of their want of culture.8 This is one of the most powerful statements from a church father regarding culture and the utility of learning, one which has much to say to a certain portion of the church today! (In orthodoxy we talk a lot about theoria in quasi-magical terms; but we must never forget that theoria is primarily a literary term.) Clearly, then, intensive study of pagan literature and philosophy was deemed necessary, to be properly human, supplying tools which were then to be employed in the study of God—in theology. The importance of this is shown by an intriguing episode from the fourth century. Julian

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the Apostate (c. 331–c. 363) was a fellow student of Gregory the Theologian in Athens. When he came to the throne, one of his means of attempting to undermine Christianity was to deny the right of Christians to use pagan literature in their education, effectively denying them an education—a paideia—that made one a cultivated member of society. In response to this, Apollinarius of Laodicaea (d. 390) and his father (also Apollinarius [fourth century], a teacher of grammar) set about rendering the scriptures in classical form; the father reportedly translated the books of Moses into heroic verse and paraphrased the historical books into dactylic and tragic meter, while the son rendered the Gospels and apostolic writings in the form of Platonic dialogues. After Julian died and his edict was reversed, however, these classicized scriptures were abandoned; there was no attempt to create a purely Christian world and education (indeed, there were probably none until the various Puritan communities). The monastic communities were always a treasury of learning; the Pachomian communities, in fourth-century Egypt, for instance, while requiring every novice to learn to read, and to memorize the Psalms, probably had in their libraries the collection of gnostic and pagan literature found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. This emphasis on paideia, on letters and learning, continued throughout later Byzantine history. It is noteworthy how and why it was that Gregory and Basil, along with John Chrysostom (c. 347–407), came to be celebrated as the Three Hierarchs. They began to be celebrated, after the iconoclastic period, as the models of true rhetoric—part of a flourishing or renaissance of interest in rhetoric, that is, in the power of words. The feast dates to the eleventh century and was conceived as a feast of oratory/rhetoric—of words. The Three Hierarchs exemplify a true rhetoric, not only one of style, but of content. They found human words capable of expressing the Word of God and embodied it in their own lives. Rhetoric was understood by the Byzantines to be a sacred art, part of the sacred cosmos of man. They even called it a μυστήριον (mystērion)—a sacrament in which we are to be its celebrants—finding words for the Word, conveying the Logos of God in the logos of man.9 To be able to use words in such a manner that they convey not only our own thoughts but the Word of God requires a very disciplined mind and a particularly formed person—a complete paideia.


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So, as we have seen, learning is not only valued, but emphasized. But we should go further than simply giving examples of the importance ascribed to learning, to try to understand why letters and learning should be important for us as Christians. We should not forget that Christians are called “disciples” (μαθηταί; mathētai)—more literally “student” or “pupil,” one engaged in study—and that Christ instructed his apostles to make such students of all people. The first Christian churches appeared, in one sense, as philosophical schools, with disciples gathered around a teacher, instructing them in the oral traditions and sacred text as interpreted to them by their founder. And this character continued with monasticism; one can say that Christianity is intrinsically a scholarly tradition. To understand why this should be so, it is worth returning to the point I made at the beginning: that Christianity is a revealed religion. Why, we might ask, would a revealed religion need learning, scholarship, an inquiring mind? We have seen that Christianity has consistently valued such paideia; perhaps we should consider again the structure of revelation at work in Christianity. One of the most striking aspects of the Gospels is that—whatever the disciples heard about Jesus’ birth from his mother, or about his baptism from others, whatever divine teachings they themselves heard from his lips or miracles they saw him doing with their own eyes, even seeing him transfigured on the mountain in glory—they still abandoned him at the time of the passion, and Peter even denied him three times: “I do not know the man” (Matt. 26:72, 74 NRSV; cf. v. 70). Apart from the confession of Peter on the road to Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:16), “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”—a confession that Peter did not really understand, as he then attempted to prevent Christ from going to Jerusalem to suffer (and so gets called “Satan”)—the disciples are remarkably slow in coming to know that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. Neither did the empty tomb of itself persuade them; when the women turn up to the tomb, they are amazed and don’t know what to make of it (it requires the angels to provide an explanation). Similarly with the resurrection appearances: when Jesus ap-

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pears, disciples don’t recognize him, but instead tell him about the tomb having been found empty (Luke 24:22–24)! Only when the crucified and risen Christ opens the scriptures—to show how it was necessary for him to have gone to his passion to enter his glory—do the disciples’ hearts begin to burn, so that they are prepared to recognize him in the breaking of bread. But once he is recognized, the crucified and risen Lord disappears from their sight (Luke 24:31). At the very moment that the disciples finally encounter Christ knowingly, he passes out of their sight! And so, from the beginning, we are left in anticipation of his coming; the one of whom we previously had no comprehension appears and disappears, or appears in his disappearance, creating in us a desire for his coming, a trace of his presence. As Augustine (354– 430) put it in the Confessions: “Through him you sought us when we were not seeking you, but you sought us that we might begin to seek you.”10 And so, as the apostle Paul puts it, we now “[forget] what lies behind and [strain] forward to what lies ahead,” responding to “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14), knowing that our “citizenship” is not here on earth, but “in heaven,” from which “we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20–21). Jesus is always the “coming one”— even within the Gospel narratives: “Are you the coming one, or should we look for another?” the disciples of John the Baptist ask (Matt. 11:2–5, my translation) (and he doesn’t give an answer). In all of this, what is important for us now is how it was that the disciples came to know that Jesus is the Lord, the Son of God. They did not come to this knowledge through hearing reports about his birth nor by accompanying him for a period of time. Yet neither was it merely seeing Christ on the cross that prompted the disciples, finally, to know the Lord, nor even was the report about the empty tomb or the encounter with the risen Christ enough to persuade the disciples; the tomb was empty, but this in itself was ambiguous, and when he appeared, he was not immediately recognized. Rather, it was in the breaking of bread that the disciples encountered the Lord and came to recognize him as the one whose Passion is spoken of by the scriptures. When the Spirit descends at Pentecost, he comes as the one promised by Christ, the one who will remind us of all things about Christ, and so lead us into all truth (John 16:13). It is only after the event, as the Gospel


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of John says (cf. John 12:16), that the disciples will realize that the scriptures were fulfilled in Christ, now that they turn again to the scriptures to find them full of references to Christ. The engagement with the scriptures (1 Cor. 15) and the sharing in the Lord’s meal, “proclaiming his death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26)— these are what Paul received (from the Lord himself in the case of the eucharistic meal) and then handed down, or “traditioned,” to later generations (cf. 1 Cor. 11:23; 15:3). They constitute, as it were, the matrix and the sustenance of the Christian tradition. With these, we can now look back to the cross, the last publicly visible image (the tomb, after all, was empty and seen only by a few, and the risen Christ disappears from our sight when he is recognized), as the sign of victory, as we await the return of the Lord. As the apostle Paul said, he would preach nothing else but Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). So, Christians are those who read the scriptures to encounter Christ— our encounter is, in a broad sense, literary: we come to know God through his Word. In a sense, this is what we do in church, where we use the language and imagery of scripture—in the poetry of hymnography and the artistry of iconography—to praise God for what he has wrought in Christ by the Spirit, thus making the church the matrix, the womb, in which we come to put on the identity of Christ, and by receiving his body, becoming his body.


This scriptural dimension of our encounter with Christ requires of us a knowledge of the working of letters, and that we, as Saint Gregory put it, learn the principles of inquiry and contemplation. We have seen this expressed in terms of plundering the Egyptians, but there is a reverse side, which the early Christians spoke about in terms of the seeds of the Word being implanted into all. Clement of Alexandria spoke of this, and before him, Saint Justin Martyr, the Philosopher (c. 100–c. 165). Clement held that the Word of God is in all creation, as the logos spermatikos (λόγος σπερματικός)—the

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“sowing Word” spreading “seeds of the Word” (σπέρμα τοῦ λόγου; sperma tou logou) in all. The Word of God, as the Logos spermatikos, implants in human beings a seed, a sperma, which enables them to think and live in accordance with the Logos. Such a seed of the Word gives them a dim perception of “the whole Word,” the Son, so that some, like Plato and Socrates, were enabled to live and think according to the Word (or at least attempt to do so). Therefore, Justin can claim that Christ was partially known even by Socrates: For whatever either lawgivers or philosophers uttered well, they elaborated by finding and contemplating some part of the Word. But since they did not know the whole of the Word, which is Christ, they often contradicted themselves. . . . For each man spoke well in proportion to the share he had of the spermatic word, seeing what was related to it. But they who contradict themselves on the more important points appear not to have possessed the heavenly wisdom, and the knowledge which cannot be spoken against. Whatever things were rightly said among all men, are the property of us Christians. . . . For all the writers were able to see realities darkly through the presence in them of an implanted seed of the Word.11 As Christians began to turn outward to address the wider world, such a position clearly had tremendous apologetic value and hermeneutical power—enabling Justin to discern in creation and culture that to which he could appeal as a point of contact, and claim it for his own, as manifesting the workings of the same God revealed in the Word, Jesus Christ. This kind of openness to the world (and Justin and Clement take it much further than we would generally do) is something that many find very attractive and appealing—it allows us to see God at work in all things, and allows us to take whatever is good, wherever it may be— following Paul’s words in Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” However, Justin is not simply saying that God has been at work in all things independently from what he has done in Christ as revealed through the scriptures. For Justin, in fact, if the


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philosophers and poets have received seeds of the Word, have received some insight into truth, it is because they have read Moses. “And whatever both philosophers and poets said about the immortality of the soul or punishments after death or of the contemplation of the heavens or other such doctrines, they have been able to know and have expounded by beginning from the prophets (παρὰ τῶν προφητῶν τὰς ἀφορμὰς λαβόντες [para tōn prophētōn tas aphormas labontes]); hence there appear to be seeds of truth among all.”12 Whatever one thinks of the possibility of the Greek philosophers or poets actually having read the Hebrew scriptures, it was a point of importance for Justin; it might be described as what we would today call a “cultural takeover bid.” It was a battle between Moses and Homer; Justin and others argue that Moses was older than all the philosophers and poets, and so he is in fact the source of whatever the philosophers or poets might have said that is true. Clement quotes Numenius, the Pythagorean philosopher: “What is Plato but Moses speaking in Attic Greek”!13 The point of importance here is really an evangelical (or missionary) one. I think it is safe to say that Socrates and Plato, and the philosophers following him, would most assuredly not have been convinced by Justin’s attempt to see them as forebearers of Christ. But the action of plundering the Egyptians (in this case the Greeks) in turn enables the presence of the Word of God to be extended even to those prior to Christ. This backward extension of the light of Christ follows the basic fact that we only ever understand backwards, as Kierkegaard pointed out. We can see the same thing at work in the case of the apostles and the scriptures (what we now call the Old Testament): the disciples and apostles most assuredly knew these scriptures, but they were not thereby ready to accept a crucified messiah. Only when the risen Lord opened the books of scripture—to show how they all speak of him, and how he had to suffer before entering his glory—could they turn back to see him already having been spoken about by Isaiah or prefigured by Moses. As Origen, in the third century, put it: “Before the sojourn of Christ, the Law and the Prophets did not contain the proclamation which belongs to the definition of the Gospel, since he who explained the mysteries in them had not yet come. But since the Savior has come and has caused the Gospel to be embodied, he has by the Gospel made all things as Gospel.”14 A little later he qualifies his

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statement that they did not contain the proclamation; they did, but they veiled the message, so that it would not anticipate the time of the Lord. We understand only retrospectively. By standing on the truth of the gospel, the proclamation of Christ as proclaimed by the apostles according to scripture, we are able now to read the scriptures as an open book, to understand what was written by the prophets. And then, we can look further afield, and see the same light of Christ shining on and through the whole of God’s creation. Further, the medium through which this divine light shines is ourselves; we are called not simply to behold the light, but to become beacons ourselves, whereby God’s light can shine further afield.




Plundering the Egyptians, honing our intellectual skills, is the indispensable means (along with the whole formation entailed by a proper paideia) whereby we learn how to use words, so that we can in fact use words to convey the Word of God. NOTES Unless otherwise noted, all translations of scripture passages are from the Revised Standard Version. 1. Tertullian, Prescription against Heretics 7, trans. in Ante-Nicene Fathers [ANF], ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, 10 vols. (1885–87; repr., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), vol. 3. 2. Origen, Philocalia 13.1, trans. G. Lewis (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1911). 3. Ibid., 13.2. 4. The idea of a “cultural takeover bid” is used by Frances M. Young in her book Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 51–57, drawing upon Arthur J. Droge, Homer or Moses? Early Christian Interpretation of the History of Culture, Hermeneutische Untersuchungen zur Theologie 26 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1989). The image of plundering the Egyptians has a long apologetic history thereafter, at least until David Bentley Hart’s book The Beauty of the Infinite (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), which reverses the image to indicate there is nothing good in the world left that is not Christian.


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5. Gregory the Wonderworker, The Oration and Panegyric Addressed to Origen, argument [arg.] 15, trans. in ANF, vol. 6. 6. Ibid., arg. 11. 7. Ibid., arg. 13. 8. Gregory Nazianzus [the Theologian], Oration 43, 11, trans. in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers [NPNF ], second series (1894; repr. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), vol. 7. 9. Cf. George L. Kustas, Studies in Byzantine Rhetoric (Thessalonika: Patriarchikon Hidryma Paterikōn, 1973). 10. Augustine, Confessions 11.2.4, trans. M. Boulding (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1997). 11. Justin Martyr, Second Apology 10; 13.4–5, trans. in ANF, vol. 2 (emphasis added). 12. Justin Martyr, First Apology 44.9–10. 13. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, trans. in ANF, vol. 2. 14. Origen, Commentary on the Gospel of John 1.[8].33, trans. R. E. Heine (Washington, DC: Catholic University of American Press, 1989).




A ndrew l outh

It might seem that the relationship between Orthodox monasticism and higher education is at best non-existent and at worst antagonistic. Furthermore, this might appear to be true both in itself and in contrast with the West. For in the West, one can track a route through monasticism to the ideals of the medieval university, which are still among the roots of the modern concept of higher education, though increasingly overgrown, indeed choked, by more recent perceptions of the purpose of higher education. Such a route might look like this: Augustine’s De doctrina Christiana, which incorporated the ideals of classical paideia into the educational structures necessary for the reading, writing, and preaching needed in the church; Cassiodorus’s Institutiones—the education provided for novices in Benedictine monasticism; and on this foundation, the establishment of first the cathedral schools and then the medieval university. The importance of the route is that there was little other access to education, certainly very little outside the church (there must have been something similar in the Lateran Chancery), since, by the end of the fifth century, 155


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Westerners seeking higher education looked to the East (cf. Boethius), and very soon even that route was denied them.1 The Eastern experience is different, or so it is maintained: the system of higher education did not collapse in the Eastern Empire, so there was no need to look to monasticism to provide an alternative.2 Moreover, there quickly grew up in the East a sense of antagonism between intellectual pursuits and monasticism. Patriarch Theophilos of Alexandria, in his attacks on Origenism among the monks of the Egyptian Desert and his condemnation of Origen in 399, tried, successfully, to erect an opposition between the prayer of the simple monks and the intellectual aspirations of the Origenists. That opposition remained a polarity throughout the Byzantine period; it becomes institutionalized at the end of the eleventh century with the condemnation of John Italos and the consequent additions to the Synodikon of Orthodoxy: “On those who pursue Hellenic learning and are formed by it not simply as an educational discipline, but follow their empty opinions, and believe them to be true, and thus become involved in them, as possessing certainty, so that they introduce others to them, whether secretly or openly, and teach them as indubitable: Anathema! ”3 This opposition between “Hellenic [= pagan] learning”4 and the faith of the gospel is one of the polarities behind the Hesychast controversy of the fourteenth century: those who denigrated the monks who claimed to see the divine light were attacked by Gregory Palamas as intellectuals, who put their trust in human reasoning rather than divine grace. So, in his summary of his case against Barlaam and Akyndinos in his 150 Chapters, Palamas affirms: Here and in such things lie the true wisdom and the saving knowledge which procure blessedness on high. What Euclid, what Marinos, what Ptolemy could understand? . . . If the spiritual wisdom seemed earthbound to those natural philosophers and their followers, consequently the one who stands supereminently superior to it turns out also to be such. For almost as the irrational animals are related to the wisdom of men, . . . just so are these philosophers to the true and most excellent wisdom and teaching of the Spirit.5 Such anti-intellectualism is by no means absent from Orthodox monasticism today.

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Is there then any positive relationship between Orthodox monasticism and higher education, or are they irreconcilably opposed? Several considerations might lead to a more positive understanding of the relationship. First, negatively, the historical account given of a long-standing opposition between Eastern monasticism and higher education can be revisited, and retold in a different way. Secondly, and bound up with this, it can be argued that monasticism and higher education have common roots. And in pursuing an understanding of these common roots, we shall lay bare a critique of the course that higher education in the West seems to be taking nowadays. Let us start with deconstructing the account just given of the long struggle between Eastern monasticism and higher education. It takes for granted a rather sunny account of the history of higher education in the Eastern Empire. Though it is true that the collapse of higher education in the East was not so sudden, or complete, as the collapse in the West, the story is not, in the end, that different. It is, in fact, very difficult to trace the history of higher education in the East, but it does not look as if there was any very robust system of higher education in the Byzantine Empire after the beginning of the seventh century.6 Indeed, it seems that the history of education in the East was not very dissimilar from that in the West: some sort of education must have been available in the imperial court, but we are poorly informed about it. It has been remarked that in the seventh century, it was easier to get a good literary education in cities like Damascus than in the capital city, Constantinople, and this is borne out by the ecclesiastical literature of the seventh/eighth century: John of Damascus, Cosmos of Maïuma, Andrew of Crete—and somewhat earlier, Sophronios of Jerusalem—all hailed from Damascus and received their early education there; Constantinople has no one to match them. Eastern monasteries, as in the West, needed literate monks—to read the increasingly complex services and provide the manuscripts from which the services were read, as well as other manuscripts, not necessarily religious. At the end of the eighth and beginning of the ninth century, the scriptorium of the Stoudios monastery in Constantinople, lately revived under the leadership of Theodore of Stoudios, was an important source for literary texts, mostly religious (the Ouspensky Gospels, for instance); it was there, very likely, that the use of the cursive script for literary manuscripts (as opposed to notes and other informal writing) was


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introduced. Thereafter there is evidence of continued production of literary manuscripts in the monasteries of the capital. This would have required educational facilities, which we can assume the monasteries themselves provided, at least for the most part. The story thus begins to look rather less different from that in the West, at least as far as the monasteries are concerned. The history of the university, however, in the East was, and remained, very different from that in the West. Byzantium was a beleaguered society, shrinking in on the capital. If there was a university—we hear of a Magnavra University in the ninth century—there was only one; there was no context for the competition, such as that between cathedral schools and later between universities in the West, which fueled their development.7 There was, also, in the East much greater scope for private learning than in the West.8 This again militated against the kind of development in intellectual culture that took place in the West from the twelfth century onwards. There are further areas ripe for deconstruction in the traditional account of opposition between monasticism and higher learning that I have outlined. Theophilos’s opposition between intellectual (Origenist) monks and simple prayerful monks seems to have been largely a rhetorical construction, destined to be influential. In reality, there is very little evidence of any antagonism between simple monks and intellectual monks in the fourth-century Egyptian desert. Someone like Evagrios— intellectual monk par excellence, the “philosopher of the Desert,” as Antoine Guillaumont styled him—had intellectual mentors, such as the Cappadocian Fathers, but, once in Egypt, placed himself under the tutelage of the Makarioi—of Egypt (the Great), and of Alexandria. The notion of Antony the Great as an illiterate Coptic peasant has been largely abandoned as a result of Samuel Rubenson’s pioneering work on the letters of Saint Antony,9 though it is not necessary to accept the notion of him as a fully paid-up Origenist to see that the idea of an opposition between intellectual and “simple” monks in this early period must simply be abandoned. Rubenson’s research project, “Early Monasticism and Classical Paideia,” is demonstrating the ramifications of a thesis that sees early Eastern monasticism (both in the Byzantine Empire and to the east) and classical paideia in a symbiotic relationship, not very much dif-

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ferent in principle, though maybe in practice, from that which developed in the West. As noted in my summary of the traditional account, the opposition between Greek learning and the spirit of the gospel (to which monasticism and the life of prayer made a kind of proprietary claim) became institutionalized in the anathemas added to the Synodikon of Orthodoxy under Emperor Alexios Komnenos shortly after 1082. It must be remembered, however, that the higher culture of Byzantium was a rhetorical culture. Just as Theophilos’s highly successful opposition between intellectual Origenists and simple, prayerful monks mapped very ill onto the realities of monastic life in the Egyptian desert, so Palamas’s use of a similar opposition, lent authority by the Synodikon of Orthodoxy, must not be allowed to become a simple description of the state of affairs in the Hesychast controversy: it was a sanctioned opposition that suited his purposes well; the reality that lay behind it was more complex. Palamas himself was not averse to the use of dialectic, part of the Hellenic higher intellectual culture: in his initial controversy with Barlaam, it was Palamas who defended the use of dialectic and Barlaam who maintained its limitations. If one looks at the Hesychast controversy as a whole, which continued to echo through the fourteenth century, it becomes evident that none of the rhetorical polarities to which appeal was made— philosophy versus experience of grace, openness versus closedness to Western ideas, Aristotelianism versus Platonism—map very well onto the realities of the dispute. The dispute between Palamas and Akyndinos was between two Athonite monks; once Aquinas became known, appeal was made to him by both sides; indeed sometimes the notion of “sides” survives only because of the conciliar authority gained by the Palamite party. Opposition, still less antagonism, between Orthodox monasticism and higher education becomes more and more difficult to articulate clearly, except as a rhetorical opposition, to which appeal may be made in controversy. As such, it remained and remains very handy—but if an opposition beyond a rhetorical (or political?) stance cannot be articulated very clearly, it becomes less and less evident what it means, save in political terms. We can, however, take another tack, more positive, and more promising in terms of understanding what monasticism and higher education


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might have to contribute to each other. Right at the sources of Orthodox monasticism, we find the figure of Saint Basil the Great. He is often overshadowed by the fame that accrued to the fathers of the Egyptian desert, but in terms of practical influence—no less important than his inspiring example—Saint Basil, through his Great Asketikon, became second to none for the Orthodox monks. As for monastic reform in the West, it was Benedict to whom appeal was made; so for monastic renewal in the East, it is Basil to whom people like Theodore of Stoudios turned—indeed in the West Benedict himself looked back to Basil.10 Right at the start of his literary, and indeed monastic, career, Basil wrote what is listed as his second letter, to his friend, Gregory the Theologian, in about 359. The date and the recipient of the letter are significant; Basil had a little earlier written to Gregory praising the physical setting of his retreat in Pontos, to which Basil invited his friend Gregory, whom he had abandoned in Athens: There is a high mountain, covered with a thick forest, watered on its northerly side by cool and transparent streams. At its base is outstretched an evenly sloping plain, ever enriched by the moisture from the mountain. A forest of many-coloured and multifarious trees, a spontaneous growth surrounding the place, acts almost as a hedge to enclose it, so that even Kalypso’s isle, which Homer seems to have admired above all others for its beauty, is insignificant as compared to this.11 And so on. Gregory eventually overcame his scruples and joined Basil in Pontus; there, together, they compiled their tribute to Origen, the Philocalia, an anthology drawn from Origen’s works. They were engaged in a joint intellectual quest, the pursuit of philosophy—φιλοσοφία (philosophia), a term that was rapidly changing its connotation in the latter part of the fourth century to mean pursuit of the ascetic life.12 But before Gregory joined Basil in Pontos, he had replied to Basil’s letter and received a response, which we have already referred to, preserved in Basil’s correspondence as the second letter. Gregory’s response to Basil’s account of the beauty of the place had been guarded; he had apparently said (Gregory’s letter is lost) that he would rather learn something about Basil and his companions’ “habits and mode of life” than the

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beauty of the place—he wants to know about their τρόπος (tropos), rather than their τόπος (topos). Basil, in his reply, commends Gregory for this, remarking that, though he could leave behind his life in the city, he has not yet been able “to leave [himself ] behind” (ep. 2.1). What is needed is separation from the world altogether, but what this means is not so much bodily separation as separation from sympathy, fellow feeling, with the body and its concerns, which include home, possessions, love of friends, social relations, and even knowledge derived from human teaching. To this end solitude (ἐρημία; erēmia) is very valuable, as it calms the passions and affords the reason leisure (σχολή; scholē) (cf. ep. 2.2). Basil goes on to speak of the purifying of the soul, when it is deprived in solitude of the constant distraction of civil and family life. The soul is enabled to relinquish this world and “to imitate on earth the anthems of angels’ choirs; to hasten to prayer at the very break of the day, and to worship our Creator with hymns and songs” (ep. 2.2). The beginning of this purification of the soul is tranquillity (ἡσυχία; hēsychia), which enables the soul to withdraw into itself and by itself to ascend to contemplation of God. For this, reading of and meditation on the scriptures is valuable, for the scriptures contain not just precepts to follow, but examples to imitate. Prayer is stimulated by reading the scriptures; it engenders in the soul a distinct conception of God, but, more than that, brings about the indwelling of God in the soul, for “the indwelling of God is this—to hold God ever in memory, his shrine established within us” (ep. 2.3). There then follow reflections on the way of life that is conducive to this: reflections on the way we are to behave one towards another—with respect and courtesy, neither harsh towards others nor withdrawn; reflections on clothing—utilitarian, not ostentatious; food is to be simple and adequate, preceded and followed by prayer; sleep to be light. Several things are striking about this. First, most of it could have been said by a pagan philosopher, talking about the higher life of thought: the emphasis on tranquillity, the sense of distance from the world ushering in proximity to heaven and heavenly beings; again, Basil’s account of appropriate dress for the Christian ascetic recalls the accounts of the cynic philosophers. But the classical style and allusions are shot through with language that is distinctively Christian. Patrucco’s fascinating commentary reveals, for example, that just after describing Christian monks’ dress in terms of the Cynic philosopher, to describe them as “mourners,” or


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“those who grieve” (οἱ πενθοῦντες; hoi penthountes), is to employ a word that had became a technical term for an ascetic in the Syrian tradition.13 A more obvious example occurs right at the beginning of the letter, when Basil agrees with Gregory that solitude on its own is useless, because our minds remain cluttered, and says that we need “to keep close to the footsteps of Him who pointed the way to salvation,” and goes on to quote Matthew 16:24. Basil, then, seems to stand, quite unself-consciously, at the interface between classical culture and the message of the gospel. But having said that, we must add: Basil is certainly facing in one direction— towards the scriptures; there is a kind of turning point in the letter when he says, “But the best way to the discovery of what is needed is meditation on the Scriptures inspired by God” (ep. 2.3). It has recently been argued that it was his elder sister, Macrina, who brought home to him the crowning significance of the scriptures.14 Secondly, however, we find something else that is to become characteristic of Basil: namely, the way in which our relationships with one another become themselves an ascetic way. For Basil, although the ascetic way entails an inner transformation, it is also essentially something that involves others, something that is tested and furthered by our relationships with other people. In this letter it is very striking, for however much the language recalls the ideal of the “alone returning to the alone,” the letter closes with several pages concerned with how we are to live together, how we are to behave one towards another. What this suggests is that the roots of both Orthodox monasticism and higher education are the same, or at least overlap: both are based on the search for what might be called contemplative wisdom. Such wisdom is achieved only by detachment from oneself and from any attempt to exploit what it is we are seeking to understand. This kind of wisdom, or knowledge, is not attained by any method that proceeds by a series of steps towards some predefined goal; rather it is attained by an inward asceticism, the cultivation of attention,15 not to oneself and one’s desires and longings, but to something other than ourselves. There is a difference between the pursuit of monasticism and the pursuit of learning, and that comes out above in the place Basil gives to the scriptures, for the scriptures are the focus of monasticism—or Christian discipleship—because in them we find the word of God addressed to us: it is this to which we are seeking to be attentive. Basil, however, is clearly open to the way in

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which the created order, not least the tranquillity that can be found in nature unfrequented by men and women, can speak to us of God. Other writers in the tradition of Orthodox monasticism find a close parallel between the word of God manifest to us in the words of Scripture and the word of God manifest to us in the words, the structural principles, the λόγοι (logoi), of creation: Maximos the Confessor, for example, in his Ambigua.16 We might explore this further by tracing these roots more deeply. Behind the pattern of the monastic pursuit, of which Basil spoke in terms of such enthusiasm to his friend, Gregory, lies the distinction between the active life and the contemplative life, the βίος πρακτικός (bios praktikos) and the βίος θεωρητικός (bios theōrētikos), a distinction expressed in this form as early as Aristotle, though much older: Plato was certainly aware of the distinction.17 For Aristotle, this was the distinction between the life of worldly activity—the world of business and commerce, the world of farming and manufacture, the world of everyday life—and, in contrast, the world of thought. The active life is concerned with doing things, and the moral and political questions that this entails; the contemplative life is concerned with beholding things. The word θεωρία (theōria) is derived from a verb meaning “to look” or “to see”: for the Greeks, knowing was a kind of seeing, a sort of intellectual seeing. Contemplation is, then, knowledge, knowledge of reality itself, as opposed to knowing how, the kind of know-how involved in getting things done. To this contrast between the active life and contemplation there corresponds a distinction, in our understanding of what it is to be human, between reason conceived as puzzling things out, solving problems, calculating and making decisions—referred to by the Greek words φρόνησις (phronēsis) and διάνοια (dianoia), or in Latin by ratio—and reason conceived as receptiveness to truth, beholding, looking—referred to by the Greek words θεωρία (theōria), σοφία (sophia; wisdom), and νοῦς (nous; intellect), or in Latin intellectus. Human intelligence operates at two levels: a basic level concerned with doing things, and another level concerned with simply beholding, contemplating, knowing reality. This contrast can be expressed in various ways. One distinction, which Aristotle discusses both at the beginning of the Metaphysics and in book 10 of his Nicomachean Ethics, can be expressed by saying that in what concerns ratio we are doing things for a reason—what we are doing


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is not done for its own sake, but for some other purpose—while in what concerns intellectus we are doing things for their own sake: in religious terms, looking at God, gazing on him, is not done for any reason, there is no ulterior motive, it is done for its own sake; but similarly with knowing things created—contemplative knowing simply is concerned with what they are, rather than with the purposes to which we can put them. In a more modern idiom, this distinction is not unlike Heidegger’s distinction between Vorhandensein—the being of things that we are simply concerned with for our own purposes—and Dasein, being for its own sake. There is another distinction, also explored by Aristotle in the places just mentioned: the realm of ratio is quite human; it is a perfectly proper human activity to engage in business, to make things, to set ourselves goals and try to achieve them; but the realm of intellectus can be said both to fulfill what it is to be human, for it is the exercise of what is highest in human nature, and also to transcend what it is to be human, for contemplation belongs to the gods. In contemplation what is highest in human nature finds its fulfillment, and that highest is what is divine in human beings: human nature finds its fulfillment in transcending itself. But there is something missing in these attempts to summarize what Aristotle thought about the relationship between the active and the contemplative lives. It is missing because the very terms I am using, terms in modern English, disguise relationships, connections, implicit in Aristotle’s Greek. When Aristotle expresses the relationship between the active and contemplative lives, he says, “for we engage in business in order to have leisure”: ἀσχολούμεθα γὰρ ἵνα σχολάζωμεν (ascholoumetha gar hina scholazōmen); literally: we are unleisured in order to be leisured. Latin has the same idea: business, negotium, is the negation of otium, rest or leisure. Our contemporary use of language puts this quite the other way about: it is “work” that is the key term; leisure is an odd, slightly embarrassing, word: time not devoted to work, time left over. We need leisure, of course, but it is mostly conceived in today’s world as an opportunity for rest and entertainment, so that we may return to work refreshed. Again, our words betray us: refreshment is a means to an end, it is not the refreshment, the refrigerium, we hope for beyond this life of toil and effort, the refrigerium which, we pray, may be granted to the departed, for instance. At the beginning of the twenty-first century this is perhaps even more odd, given that technological advance has soaked up much of what human work

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once had to accomplish, and thus provided humans, at any rate in the technologically advanced West, with more time for leisure overall than ever before. This is not a digression: it has a purpose. For if we explore the roots of both monasticism and higher learning, roots that we can trace back through the procedures of classical paideia to Aristotle (and indeed beyond), we find ourselves put in touch with ways of thinking and understanding that have been better preserved in monasteries than in our places of higher education, our universities, today. As that last example is intended to suggest, we are in danger of getting everything topsy-turvy. In losing sight of the contemplative goal of higher education as it seeks a kind of understanding, of value in itself, we are being false to, traitors to, our roots. And this is, indeed, happening. At least in England—and I daresay the same is true elsewhere in the Western world—higher education is being asked to justify itself in terms of productivity: teaching is no longer concerned with developing a capacity in students for seeing things as they are, but with providing them with skills that will make them attractive in the marketplace; research is required to demonstrate impact. In tracing the common roots of monasticism and higher education, we are, I would suggest, discovering what higher education should be, something concerned with developing habits of attention, contemplation, something it shares, though not in precisely the same terms, with the monastic life. The threat to higher education in the West is very real; the contemplative tradition of monasticism, the only one to have found much development in the Orthodox world, reminds us of what we are in danger of losing. NOTES 1. On education in the West in the early Middle Ages, see Jacques Fontaine, “Education and Learning,” in The New Cambridge Medieval History, ed. Paul Fouracre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 1:735–59. 2. Such an impression is given in J. M. Hussey, The Byzantine World (London: Hutchinson’s University Library, 1957), 145–55; contrast Cyril Mango, Byzantium: The Empire of New Rome (London: Phoenix, 1994; first published 1980), 125–48.


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3. Synodikon of Orthodoxy, ed. J. Gouillard, Travaux et Mémoires 2 (1967): 59 (trans. mine). 4. In the Byzantine Empire, the words hellēn and hellēnikos mean “pagan,” rather than bearing an ethnic sense, until the beginning of the second millennium. On the whole subject, see Anthony Kaldellis, Hellenism in Byzantium (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 5. CL Capita 25, ed. Robert Sinkewicz, Studies and Texts 83 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1988), 109. 6. For what we know about the history of higher education in the Byzantine Empire, see Paul Lemerle, Le premier humanisme byzantine: Notes et remarques sur enseignement et culture à Byzance des origins au Xe siècle (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1971). 7. See, for example, the chapter entitled “Master” in M. T. Clanchy, Abelard: A Medieval Life (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997), 65–94. 8. See, for example, Anthony Kaldellis, Hellenism in Byzantium (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 189–316. 9. Samuel Rubenson, The Letters of St. Antony: Monasticism and the Making of a Saint (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995). 10. See The Rule of St Benedict, in Latin and English, ed. and trans. Abbot Justin McCann, OSB (London: Burns Oates, 1952), 160–62. 11. Basil of Caesarea, Epistles 14.2, in The Letters, vol. 1, trans. Roy F. Deffarari (London: Heinemann / Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926), 107. I have used the text given in Basilio de Cesarea, Le lettere, vol. 1, ed. Marcella Forlin Patrucco and Corona Patrum (Turin: Società Editrice Internazionale, 1983), with its valuable commentary. Further citations are given parenthetically as epistle numbers. 12. See Anne-Marie Malingrey, “Philosophie,” Études et Commentaires 40 (1961): n.p. 13. Basilio di Cesarea, Le lettere, 1:272. 14. Anna M. Silvas, The Asketikon of St Basil the Great (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 70. 15. Cf. Simone Weil’s thoughts on the place of attention in her notes, entitled (significantly, for our context), “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God,” in Waiting on God, trans. Emma Craufurd (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1951), 51–59. 16. See, for instance, Maximos, Ambigua 10.18 (PG 91:1128D–1133A); Maximos, Mystagogia 6–7, ed. Boudignon, in Corpus Christianorum: Series Graeca 69 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), lines 507–99. 17. In what follows, I am deeply in debt to a work I read long ago, the ideas of which have remained with me: Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture (London: Faber and Faber, 1952).



T HO U G H T S F R OM O R THOD OXY ’S M OD E R N P A S T Theology, Religion, and the University in Russia (Late Nineteenth to Early Twentieth Centuries)

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On July 23, 2007, a group of ten high-ranking members of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, mostly physicists, published an open letter addressed to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.1 Highly publicized at the time and still receiving broad public attention almost a decade later, the letter addressed what its authors perceived as an active campaign prompted by the Moscow Patriarchate to introduce theology as a discipline into the curriculum of Russia’s secular state institutions of higher education.2 Quoting the 1979 Noble laureate and theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg, who maintained that “the experience of being a scientist makes religion seem fairly irrelevant,” the academics questioned the premises on which theology could be numbered among academic or “scientific” disciplines. In their estimation, “a scientific discipline is based on facts, logic, and proofs, but not on faith.”3 While the signatories on the letter clarified that they respected faith as a private matter, and that they 167


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held no animosity toward religion, as academics they could not remain indifferent to what they saw as attempts to undermine the principles of modern scientific knowledge. While bound up in the complex web of historical circumstance particular to Orthodox Christianity in post-Soviet society, the academics’ letter reverberated beyond the immediate historical context with issues that had occupied Russia’s educated society, including its academically trained Orthodox thinkers, more than a century earlier.4 Conventional wisdom might presume that, as a state religion, Orthodox Christianity as a subject of study had enjoyed a long history in Russia’s universities; in fact, that relationship was problematic and still being forged on the eve of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The organization of the university system, Orthodoxy’s status as a state religion, and the intellectual challenges of modernity all contributed to Orthodoxy’s tenuous position as an academic discipline within Russia’s universities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Given that “Russians were the first eastern Christian people to wrestle with the problem of Orthodoxy and modernity,”5 it is not surprising that Russia’s academically trained Orthodox thinkers found themselves positioned between a modernizing society that questioned the legitimacy of their subject matter in a university setting, a state that sought to promote an Orthodox educational presence for politically motivated purposes, and a hierarchical ecclesiastical bureaucratic structure that sought to oversee the academic output of its scholars. Despite their particular political and cultural historical context in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century imperial Russia, Orthodox theological school graduates and professional Orthodox academics sought to resolve challenges and tensions similar to those their contemporary Orthodox—as well as Western Christian— counterparts often face anew in the twenty-first century. Based on the writings of some of the more vocal late nineteenth- and early twentiethcentury academically trained Orthodox thinkers—including university professors who earned their doctoral degrees in Russia’s theological academies and taught in Russia’s secular universities—this essay examines modern Orthodox views on the topics of theology, higher education, and the secular university, as well as faith and scholarship (nauka)6 in the critical decades before the cataclysmic events of 1917.

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Tracing its roots to the reign of Peter the Great in the early eighteenth century, the modern university in Russia was from its inception a secular institution.7 Prior to this time, higher education in Russia was the domain of the church, centered in Moscow’s Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy (est. 1685), which had been established primarily by monastic scholars trained in Kiev’s Kiev-Mohyla Academy (est. 1632). Motivated by a practical need for native specialists in the natural sciences, history, and law, and by an Enlightenment-inspired desire to lead Russia out of “the depths of ignorance,”8 Russia’s eighteenth-century emperors and empresses oversaw the establishment of Russia’s first state institutions of higher education: the Academic University under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg in 1724 (and St. Petersburg University in 1819) and Moscow University in 1755. Initial plans, including one that Emperor Peter I commissioned from the well-known German philosopher and mathematician G. W. Leibniz (1646–1716), envisioned a theological faculty alongside medical and juridical ones, similar to the structure of German universities. In the end, however, until the nineteenth century, theology—in contrast to mandatory catechetical courses which were retained purely “for show,” as one nineteenth-century Orthodox theologian noted9—remained relegated to the “spiritual domain,” the church, which was considered outside the boundaries of Russia’s secular university system.10 In 1748, the highly revered chemist, physicist, and poet Mikhail Lomonosov noted that Russia’s universities should have three faculties— law, medicine, and philosophy—with the fourth faculty characteristic of the German university model—theology—remaining under the administration of the highest administrative organ of Russia’s Orthodox church, the Holy Synod. In large part, the rationale for segregating theology from the state university environment stemmed from the fact that Russia’s first university professors were largely Europeans and were therefore perceived “outsiders” to Orthodoxy.11 In an effort not to compromise the Orthodox faith, Empress Catherine the Great (1729–96) confirmed this arrangement in 1786, stating that theological faculties were not to be included in universities since the “teaching of theology is conferred to spiritual


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[church-administered] schools.”12 Somewhat unwittingly, from its beginning, therefore, unlike the medieval European university and its modern Protestant counterpart in Germany’s universities (in which theology remained integral to the university system because of state interest in training ministers),13 the secular academic world of eighteenth-century Russia largely marginalized Orthodox theology. The initial attempts at seeding a European-based system of university education in Russia were slow to bear fruit largely because of the difficulty of securing qualified native professorial staffing and a lack of students. At the end of the eighteenth century, for instance, fewer than one hundred students were enrolled at Moscow University at a given time, and the number of graduates in some years was fewer than ten.14 In the beginning of the nineteenth century, during the reign of Alexander I, the state embarked on a series of educational reforms, clearing the way for the rapid development of a centralized higher educational system which saw universities open in ten cities in the Russian empire by 1900, only two of which were located in central Russia proper (St. Petersburg and Moscow).15 Parallel reforms in the Orthodox Church in the early nineteenth century resulted in the establishment of its four theological academies (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, and Kiev), thereby further reinforcing the development of two parallel educational worlds: the “faith-based” and the “secular.” Given such an arrangement, by the early twentieth century many professors of Orthodox theology (as well as of other related universitytaught subjects such as church history) observed that they lacked the living engagement with society the university provided. While university reforms during the nineteenth century (1804, 1835, 1863, and 1884) were accompanied by attempts to integrate the study of Orthodoxy (theology, church history, canon law) into the university curriculum, these attempts were often motivated by state officials’ political concerns in the face of unrest in Europe, growing anti-ecclesiastical sentiments, the influence of philosophical and scientific materialism, and a resulting growth of religious doubt. As historian Victoria Frede has recently argued, such intellectual and philosophical dispositions frequently reflected modes of personal resistance to and emancipation from the often humiliating hierarchical and bureaucratic nature of the institutional church.16 The estab-

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lishment in 1819 of a permanent chair in theology and Christian studies (Bogopoznanie i khristianskoe uchenie) in Moscow University and the introduction of a mandatory, general Orthodox education course for university students from all faculties were, in part, a means to curb student unrest;17 similarly, during his tenure as minister of education (1833–49), Count Sergey Uvarov linked Orthodoxy with the notions of “Autocracy” and “Nationality” as those “principles that constitute the unique character of Russia,” and which should be included in the system of education in order to thwart the spread of the “destructive concepts” spreading throughout Europe.18 Consequently, during the first half of the nineteenth century, Orthodoxy’s public image was largely formed by state interests rather than by the inherent nature of the subject as a field of historical, cultural, or philosophical inquiry.19 Such state-motivated attempts to impart a religious quality to Russia’s university education in the first half of the nineteenth century were shortlived, and many of Russia’s academic theologians ultimately criticized them for undermining Orthodoxy in the eyes of university students and faculty.20 Increasingly aware of their marginalization, the often negative image of the institutional church in Russian society, and modernity’s unrelenting challenges to religious faith, many of Russia’s trained academic thinkers began actively discussing the prospects of teaching Orthodoxy (and Orthodox theology in particular) in universities on their own terms. Concerned with growing indifference toward and rejection of Orthodoxy, in 1865, Russia’s minister of public education, Aleksander Golovnin, appealed to the priest Nikolai Sergievskii (1827–92), professor of theology at Moscow University and graduate of Moscow Theological Academy, to raise the standards of the teaching of Orthodoxy in universities. In response, Sergievskii set out to Kiev, Odessa, Kharkov, Kazan, and St. Petersburg in order to confer with his counterparts regarding their views on the place of theology in the university curriculum.21 Despite its initiation by government officials, this report marks the beginnings of reflection among academic theologians and hierarchs concerning the topic of theology, faith, and the secular university in late imperial Russia. Two decades later, following Russia’s revolution of 1905, academically trained Orthodox thinkers began to consider the subject of Orthodoxy, higher education, and the university in a more sustained and


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committed fashion. This was a moment when social and political pressures finally pushed the Orthodox Church to embark on an in-depth examination of all facets of its institutional life with hopes of major reform—a decadelong process that culminated in the All-Russia Council of 1917–18. In 1906, the issue of Orthodoxy and the university was raised in preconciliar meetings as part of a broader discussion of Russia’s theological academies.22 Throughout this period—from the 1860s to 1917—Russia’s thriving theological journals regularly featured articles devoted to the more theoretical and philosophical aspects of this issue, considering topics such as religion and science, faith and knowledge, Christianity and modernity, and “secular scholarship” (svetskaia nauka) and religious (particularly Orthodox) literacy.


In his 1897 inaugural address at Kiev University, professor of theology and priest Pavel Svetlov (1861–1945) observed what many academically trained Orthodox thinkers had long considered a truism: although technically a subject of study, Orthodox theology was virtually invisible in the university curriculum. Reviewing a brochure about the university, he noted that among the wide array of disciplines and fields of study representing the realms of knowledge open to students, theology— representative of religious knowledge—was conspicuously absent.23 Orthodox academics offered various explanations for this lack of serious attention given to the study of theology in the curriculum. Sergei Glagolev, a professor of theology at Moscow Theological Academy, who in 1900 became vice president of the International Congress of the History of Religions, noted that all attempts to blame such indifference on influences from the “rotting West” were misguided at best, if not “rubbish.” “Nowhere as in Russia,” he observed, “is there such a sharp turning away from [the study of ] theology.”24 Other Orthodox academics agreed. The problem was not merely modern skepticism, doubt, and the rise of unbelief, but a parallel growing interest in religion and spirituality among Russia’s educated elite that bypassed Orthodox Christianity. Academic theologians sought explanations for this phenomenon within both university and ecclesiastical environments. The teaching

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about Orthodoxy in Russia’s universities, in their estimation, suffered because of the organization of the university curriculum. Reflecting the modern impulse for rationalization and differentiated spheres of activity and knowledge so aptly described by Max Weber,25 the university curriculum classified and divided knowledge, including history, into separate, seemingly isolated spheres—economic, intellectual, and political. The scientific method, argued Sergei Glagolev, often belied inherent organic links and interrelationships that existed in nature and history; narrow specialization constricted the scope of learning, often promoting understandings of the world that bore little resemblance to the workings of nature and history in their totality.26 Moreover, Pavel Svetlov argued, the current positioning of theology in the university setting contributed to its unfavorable image. Since it did not have its own faculty, but was rather part of an interdisciplinary department that served all university faculties (e.g., the faculty of physical and mathematical sciences; the faculty of ethics and philosophy), pedagogically theology appeared forced upon the curriculum as a bothersome “parasite.”27 Furthermore, Orthodox theologians claimed that insofar as university education was increasingly understood in light of professional advancement and material gain, an appreciation of knowledge for knowledge’s sake was difficult to nourish and establish. Learning and education were similar to an “industry,” observed Petr Linitskii (1839–1906), professor of philosophy at the Kazan Theological Academy.28 Students and scholars mined resources and material “facts,” and then produced knowledge according to often unspecified organizational principles, especially in the humanities.29 Driven primarily by students’ professional considerations and ambitions, the university threatened to become little more than a commercial institution.30 In such a climate, theology as a subject of study held little appeal, seemingly unable to offer students any practical training or career opportunities. Academic theologians also noted that in the face of science—“the idol of our age”31—theology was generally relegated to the realm of metaphysics. Considered “purely speculative” and based on “empty abstractions,” it could find no home in the modern university built on the foundations of empirically grounded knowledge and rationally informed and deduced philosophical systems.32 Dismissing theology and religion as “unscientific” and “unscholarly,” students bypassed them as superfluous,


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if not harmful insofar as they might detract from free thought.33 Students who remained believers, in turn, found their intellectual and spiritual energies unnaturally divided in the university context between “two faiths,” academic and religious—faiths that “modern minds” treated as fundamentally incompatible. In this environment, observed Ioann Filevskii (1865–1925), professor of theology at Kharkov University and graduate of Kiev Theological Academy, a unified person is transformed into “a strange spectacle of incessant internal struggle and unrelenting hostility among essential needs and sensibilities,” prefiguring a sensibility that would often accompany what in the American academy came to be known as “methodological secularization.”34 Some of Russia’s academic Orthodox thinkers turned to the institutional church, in addition to the university’s intellectual climate, to explain the antipathy toward and indifference to the study of theology. Sergei Glagolev, who taught at the Moscow Theological Academy and who, following the Bolshevik Revolution, was executed for counterrevolutionary activity, noted that given the ideals and search for truth that often motivate young adults, the theological academy should, in theory, attract the best and brightest young minds. In reality, it was the institution that Russia’s youth avoided most. The reason, Glagolev argued, stemmed from the way in which “truth” was presented in theological academies, which demanded no exertion of energy or quest from students. Their only task was to learn and “preserve” existing views and practices in the name of tradition. “Instead of the great role of prophets,” maintained Glagolev, “students are given the humble, yet dubious role of a constable.” Though he added that “to guard well was an honorable task,” such “guarding” in the context he knew was tantamount to making theology a “dead task.”35 In Russia’s universities, on the other hand, some of its academically trained Orthodox thinkers considered the subject “deadened” primarily by its association with the state, which often sought to capitalize on Orthodoxy as a common ideological, identity-forming idiom in order to stave off potentially threatening “foreign influences.” For this reason, students routinely turned a deaf ear to the subject. As one anonymous author wrote in 1862, there is no surer way to undermine Orthodox thought and lessen its credibility among educated members of society than by har-

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nessing it to a political or social service role. Arguing against imposing a “pious coloring” to the arts and sciences for the primary purpose of securing political and social order, the author maintained that academic learning and scholarship can bear fruit only when it is conducted independently, free of ulterior motives.36 Furthermore, some academically trained theologians such as the priest Mikhail Pavlovskii, professor of theology in Novorossisk University for forty years (1838–78), approached the teaching of Orthodoxy from a moral-theological standpoint with the aim of character formation; others, however, such as Nikolai Sergievskii, opposed pitching the teaching of Orthodoxy in this fashion since, in his estimation, it constituted a pastoral enterprise that belonged in churches.37 More troublesome for some Orthodox academics was the fact that the study of Orthodoxy was mandatory. In addition to reinforcing Orthodoxy’s association with the state, the requirement led to the perception of the course as little more than an advanced course in catechism, which was already an obligatory subject of study in secondary school. Because Orthodoxy was a required course, argued the highly esteemed scientist and physician Nikolai Pirogov (1810–81) in 1863, its academic integrity as a subject of study was undermined. Moreover, he reminded his readers, not only would students learn nothing new in a catechetical presentation of Orthodoxy, but they would bring to these mandatory courses the critical mind-set they were developing in their other studies. As a result, when taught in such a fashion, the study of Orthodoxy would potentially feed the very skepticism and doubt with regard to faith that its teaching was meant to deflect.38 In his comments on the dangers of a simplistic, catechetical presentation of Orthodoxy on the university level, Nazarii Favorov (1820–97), professor of theology at the University of Kiev, emphasized the otherwise sophisticated modes of thinking and advanced forms of knowledge to which university-aged students were introduced. By keeping the study of religion and Orthodoxy at a simplistic level, the university would leave its students intellectually unchallenged and more likely to dismiss their faith as superficial and naïve.39 While Orthodox theology was technically taught in universities, Orthodox thinkers remained troubled by its status in the curriculum, by prevailing judgments concerning it as a discipline, and by the level of its teaching. While on the one hand these thinkers looked to the organization


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of the university curriculum, the reigning philosophical disposition toward empiricism and positivism, and the guiding principles of the modern scientific method to explain the indifference (if not hostility) toward the study of Orthodoxy, on the other hand they also looked to their own theological academy circles and some of their colleagues’ views of the “secular world.” If students of history and literature in universities might have had an in-depth knowledge of Russian folktales but had never read the Bible, in theological academies, faculty often operated within a mindset that considered secular literature “inappropriate,” if not sinful, for spiritual life.40 Consequently, if widespread knowledge of Orthodoxy was to move beyond “the latest scandals and gossip about a particular priest,”41 then the place and teaching of Orthodoxy in the university curriculum needed to be rethought.


Reflecting on the prevailing biases against teaching about Orthodox theology in Russia’s universities, the well-known priest Alexander IvantsovPlatonov (1835–94), a graduate of the Moscow Theological Academy and well-respected professor of church history at Moscow State University, observed that professors of theology in Russia’s universities faced dilemmas that fellow faculty members did not. Among the most pressing of these concerns, he felt, was the incessant need to defend the “right” of their subject matter to exist as a scholarly enterprise within the university.42 Pavel Svetlov, a priest and professor of theology at Kiev University, suggested that the least his university colleagues might do is operate according to the legal principle audiatur et altera pars, which states that a person should not be judged without a fair hearing.43 Russia’s academic Orthodox thinkers usually began their defense of theology’s place in the university curriculum by stating their perceived goal of a university education, which inevitably drew on the theme of unity—a hallmark of nineteenth-century Russian religious philosophy, the immediate roots of which stemmed from the thought of Aleksei Khomiakov (1804–60), Ivan Kireevskii (1806–56), Sergei Soloviev

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(1820–79), and Sergei Trubetskoi (1820–79). According to the priest Aleksei Preobrazhenskii (1875–1920), a professor of homiletics at Kazan Theological Academy and later professor at Saratov University, the university fostered learning which, in contrast to specialized, vocational schools, embraced “the totality of knowledge available to humans.”44 Genuine knowledge, in his estimation, consisted of rational development of an “integral consciousness” (tsel’noe soznanie), rather than fragmented knowledge resulting from the systematic classification and specialization the contemporary sciences demanded. Truly educated persons, argued Preobrazhenskii, are those who are aware of themselves not only as individuals, but primarily as members of the human race, “the spirit of which . . . has not become entangled in the loopholes of [a person’s] own anthill in which the light of science and knowledge shines only through the narrow window of their specialization.”45 In an attempt to distinguish between forms of erudition, Sergei Glagolev juxtaposed the notion of scholarly learnedness (uchennost’ )—which he understood as a narrow, specialized form of knowledge—with education (obrazovanie), a more expansive breadth of knowledge.46 According to the priest Timofei Butkevich (1854–1925), a graduate of the Moscow Theological Academy and professor of theology at Kharkov University, the quest for what Pavel Svetlov referred to as an “integrated worldview” (tsel’noe mirovozzrenie) was a sacred task from an Orthodox anthropological standpoint. In Butkevich’s estimation, humans are rational and free beings capable of limitless intellectual and moral development. Insofar as education—including the study of the natural sciences and other “secular” subjects—contributed to the development of a person’s reason and capacity for compassion by facilitating lifelong service to others, it ranked among the highest means of serving God.47 Given the premise that the university ideal was to help foster an integrated worldview, academic Orthodox thinkers argued that no form of knowledge—including theological knowledge—should be excluded from its curriculum. A university curriculum without offerings in theology, from this perspective, remained incomplete. Arguing for the integrity of theology as a scholarly subject worthy of academic study in its own right, many of Russia’s Orthodox academic theologians insisted on the symbiotic relationship between faith, knowledge, and science. Highlighting


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its relevance and perceived urgency, the topic of the relationship between faith, learning, and academic and scientific knowledge was the subject of numerous essays in Russia’s theological journals during this period.48 University professors of theology (who also often served as university chaplains) addressed the topic in sermons as well.49 In a sermon delivered in 1908, professor of theology at Kharkov University Ioann Filevskii, for instance, countered the stereotypical modern view that faith would cease to be a reality in the life of a genuinely learned person. Examining what he saw as the inherent relationship between faith and education, he stated that “faith preserves and realizes the ideal of knowledge and dispels faint-heartedness.” “Illuminating the boundaries of intellectual activity,” he noted, “[faith] rouses a thirst for knowledge, [as well as] deepens and clarifies interest in research. . . . Faith accompanies knowledge on all steps of its development.”50 According to Pavel Svetlov, while people might differ in their evaluation of the theoretical and practical value of religious knowledge, to remove its study and critical examination from the university curriculum was to “distort reality,” if for the simple reason that to do so was to ignore the role it had played universally and historically in personal and social human development. As Nikolai Sergievskii argued, religion and theology constituted not merely subjects of intellectual curiosity, but also “an internal living indelible need of all humans.”51 For Svetlov, as for Sergievskii and Preobrazhenskii before him, theology offered a unifying link that helped to harmonize and synthesize the otherwise fragmented realms of knowledge. Given their convictions regarding the symbiotic relationship between faith and knowledge and religion and science, many of Russia’s Orthodox academic theologians argued that conflicts between these spheres of learning were often the product of prevailing misconceptions of both faith and science. Orthodox theologians, in their estimation, had historically contributed to these tensions no less than secular intellectuals; they, too, had promoted “inauthentic views” of both realms of knowledge.52 In order to overcome some of these misconceptions and mutual prejudices— and to establish theology (and religion) as a viable and respected “scientific” discipline—it was imperative that the subject be properly framed for the university context. Only in this way would students be given the

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freedom to evaluate, then accept or reject, various “truths” responsibly. Otherwise, students might reject what they simply did not know. For this reason, those Orthodox academics who understood the university environment emphasized the fact that not every graduate of a theological academy was well suited for teaching about Orthodoxy in the university. Candidates who filled these positions, they argued, must be carefully chosen since, as Pavel Svetlov pointed out, a secular university environment demands more from a professor of theology than a faithbased theological academy. In a secular setting, a professor of theology stands alone to navigate an environment often highly critical of his subject matter.53 Other professors emphasized that a nonconfrontational temperament and flexibility with respect to gauging an audience were critical for an instructor’s success. Vasilii Dobrotvorskii (1822–94), professor of theology at Kharkov University, maintained that if teaching is viewed as a process of scaffolding, such a process cannot proceed in a productive fashion before the builder assesses the foundation on which the edifice is to be constructed. In the case of the teaching about religion, this would involve taking the time to address prevailing misconceptions and prejudices that might prevent a student’s productive engagement with the subject matter.54 Some authors spoke about the importance of presenting Orthodoxy in light of contemporary social, philosophical, and ethical questions and concerns in the university setting.55 Vasilii Dobrotvorskii, for instance, argued that professors of theology would do better not to approach their subject matter in confessional terms but to pay more attention to religion in general, and to Christianity in particular, in light of prevailing ideological, philosophical, and scientific trends.56 Others considered the necessity of teaching theology in terms of basic religious literacy to help correct widespread ignorance about Orthodoxy among members of educated society.57 Still others emphasized that the subject deserved attention simply due to Orthodoxy’s importance in the lives of millions of Russia’s citizens. Otherwise, its conspicuous absence in the university curriculum would promote a cultural divide and disassociate the university from the realities of the society in which students lived. As one author argued, whether or not an educated person believed in the subject matter was secondary. Even those educated people who felt compelled to “root out” religion


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could do so effectively only if armed with knowledge about what they were attempting to eradicate. For such students, the study of Orthodoxy could be justified as a principle of effective warfare: “know your enemy.”58 While Orthodox academic theologians rarely discussed particular curricular issues, Pavel Svetlov offered his ideas on how Orthodoxy might best be presented and examined in a secular university context. First, he considered it imperative to dispel the view of theology as a system of speculative truths. Christianity, he argued, was not a teaching based on a system of ideas, but rather on a series of historical events. Gospel texts, he argued, bore witness to and offered an interpretation of those events. Accordingly, the study of Christianity involved primarily the history of how those events had been, and continue to be, interpreted. Second, while a historical approach should lie at the foundation of the study of Christianity, Svetlov argued that Christianity is also an experiential phenomenon that informs believers’ understanding of life, interpretation of events, and actions. Approaching “Christian knowledge” in this twofold manner—as historical and as “lived”—would enable the topic to be approached empirically and, therefore, accepted as a “science” in the university curriculum.59 The university became a subject of particular interest in Orthodox debates about higher education in the early twentieth century, during various deliberations and commissions that met in preparation for the All-Russia Council that finally convened in 1917–18. During this period, moderates such as Nikolai Glubokovskii (1863–1937), professor of New Testament at St. Petersburg Theological Academy, and progressives such as Pavel Svetlov argued for the establishment of theological faculties within Russia’s universities. Maintaining that theology could and should be pursued as a subject as any other, some academic theologians saw the university as the best place for its academic study and cultivation. Those such as Glubokovskii argued that theological thought and teaching in the academies was constrained by institutional ecclesiastical interests, and in particular by the main task of training clergy. The university, on the other hand, would provide scholars with an open forum in which to engage in theological reflection and to cultivate theological responses to contemporary issues. Without such a free space, Glubokovskii maintained, theology in Russia would remain isolated from the broader social, political, and philosophical intellectual currents.60

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Inspired in large part by the idea of a free and autonomous context for the development of Orthodox thought, the priest Pavel Svetlov went even further than Glubokovskii during the debates of the preconciliar commission. He boldly proposed that Russia’s theological academies be closed and incorporated into Russia’s universities as separate faculties of theology. If theological education exists for the good of the church, he reasoned, then burying that education in Russia’s marginalized academies defeated its purpose. The closed world of Russia’s theological academies resulted in their social marginalization and in a certain intellectual parochialism and perceived scholasticism that left them unresponsive to the contemporary demands of culture and society. In Svetlov’s estimation, the academies did not provide the proper conditions for Orthodox thinkers to engage the challenges of modernity effectively. Within the academies, he insisted, “learning and scholarship [nauka] enjoyed no freedom and never could.” In such an environment, he provocatively argued, the Orthodox Church remained “without a living witness to Christian truth.”61 Agreeing with Glubokovskii that the primary purpose of the theological academies was to train clergy and cadres to fill various ecclesiastical bureaucratic positions, Svetlov concluded that they lacked the dedication to scholarship as a primary goal.62 Moreover, Svetlov maintained, theological academies could not provide the best environment to nurture free thinking because of their institutional subordination, be it to the local bishop or to the Holy Synod. Knowledge and education in this highly monitored context were merely a means, not an end. In universities, on the other hand, Orthodox thinkers would be forced to engage with colleagues from a wide range of disciplines, including the natural sciences. Such interaction would ensure that Orthodox thought remained “relevant” and Orthodoxy a living faith.63 Professor Ivan Popov (1867–1938), a graduate of the Moscow Theological Academy who taught simultaneously at the Academy and at Moscow University, agreed with Svetlov’s evaluation of the dangers associated with the marginalization of theological academies from the broader secular academic world. Such marginalization, in his estimation, resulted in the academies being severed from knowledge of other subjects and disciplines, and, therefore, from the holistic learning context so central to a theologian’s work. Consequently, Orthodox thinkers risked remaining ignorant about certain topics—especially the natural and social sciences—


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on which they wrote;64 such negligence, then, undermined the credibility of their thought. As they stood at the time, the church’s schools of higher theological education were simply not staffed with the academic specialists needed to provide foundational coursework for students of theology whose vocation was to write on particularly pressing issues. In Popov’s estimation, therefore, linking or combining theological academies with universities would ultimately enrich and invigorate Orthodox thought.65 Popov also agreed with Glubokovski’s and Svetlov’s observations that academic standards in the theological academies were often sacrificed to address immediate church institutional, political, and social concerns. For instance, Popov related an episode in which a student was denied a master’s degree for questioning the historicity of certain lives of saints; the Orthodox hierarch who reviewed the work, Popov recalled, had argued that such a claim was impermissible in light of traditions deeply held by believers. If academies were to be retained at all, Popov urged that students take courses at universities as part of their academy training in order to supplement their biblical, patristic, and theological course of study with courses from other disciplines that would leave them more broadly and publicly conversant.66


Not all of Russia’s academically trained Orthodox thinkers during the second half of the nineteenth and the early twentieth century supported the teaching of Orthodox theology as an academic subject in Russia’s universities, or the attempts to “harmonize” its teaching with that of other subjects. The bishop of Smolensk, Ioann Sokolov (1818–69), a member of an 1850 special committee to review the teaching of philosophy and theology in institutions of higher education, for instance, argued that Orthodox theology should remain a subject of study primarily in the domain of Russia’s theological seminaries and academies. A graduate of the Moscow Theological Academy, a monk, and a renowned expert in canon law, Bishop Ioann argued in 1866 that because of the university’s academic requirements, the teaching of theology in universities would necessarily be superficial. Nothing could be more detrimental to the integrity of the-

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ology, he maintained, than “dilettantism.” Given that dilettantes often considered themselves experts and presented themselves accordingly, such “dabbling” with respect to theology was worse than simple ignorance. In his estimation, only faith-based schools of higher education—namely, the theological academies—were equipped to provide the proper foundation for the study of theology. Seeing no academic value in the teaching of theology in the university, the bishop supported the teaching of religion in universities exclusively for the purpose of moral and ethical formation. Otherwise, a university education would consist of “propaganda of knowledge without spirit and enlightenment without morality.”67 During debates over the reform of theological academies some forty years later, during the critical post-1905 period, those who opposed the establishment of faculties of theology in Russia’s universities, especially in lieu of the established Orthodox theological academies, did so on the premise that Orthodox thinking cut off from an institutional church context would lose its essential “ecclesiality” (tserkovnost’ ).68 Some members of the preconciliar commission also argued that theological faculties at universities would be subject to secular administrative oversight, posing challenges for members of the theological faculty, whose curricular efforts and subject matter would be continually challenged by a “secular spirit.”69 Others argued that the church’s hierarchs would in any case oppose such a rearrangement, and secular universities would oppose it since the church would insist upon oversight of such faculties.70 Despite Sokolov’s impassioned plea that Orthodoxy “rests on faith, grace, and the freedom of conscience” and not on “hierarchical control and censorship,” 71 many members of the preconciliar commission agreed that the ideal (and potentially most realistic) arrangement would include an eventual coexistence of newly established university faculties of theology alongside the already established Orthodox theological academies. In the end, no member of the preconciliar commission’s working group on religious education supported Svetlov’s proposal that Russia’s Orthodox theological academies be folded into university faculties of theology. Members of the preconciliar commission, however, supported the basic premise that Orthodox theology could not constructively respond to the demands of modernity without engaging “secular” subjects of study, as well as the view that theological academies should be places of


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independent research and development of both theological and humanistic disciplines. They thus began to consider the extent to which “secular subjects” should be taught in theological academies.72 For instance, theologian and church historian Ivan Popov argued that literature should be a mandatory subject within the theological academic curriculum since it offered those preparing for pastoral service an understanding of contemporary social and cultural trends, as well as insights into the psychological world of their contemporaries.73 V. S. Serebrenikov (b. 1862), one of the founders of experimental psychology in Russia and a graduate of and professor at St. Petersburg Theological Academy, advocated strongly for the teaching of mathematics and physics in Russia’s theological academies, maintaining that students at the St. Petersburg school could not possibly engage or work in the field of modern philosophy without strong grounding in these subjects.74 The priest A. P. Rozhdestvenskii (1865–1930), in turn, made a general plea for the teaching of “secular” disciplines in order that through them students would be able to shed “theological light” on life and subsequently develop the skill of developing these secular realms of knowledge in a Christian spirit.75 For such Orthodox thinkers, to remain a living mode of apprehension, “ecclesial knowledge” could not and should not be segregated from contemporary culture and the wide array of disciplines that had come to constitute higher education in secular universities. Many members of the preconciliar commission were not, in theory, opposed to the establishment of theological faculties in secular universities that would coexist alongside theological academies. Some, such as Ivan Popov, however, considered it a better option to offer university students free access to courses taught at the theological academies. Perhaps the most articulate and forward-looking argument for the establishment of theological faculties in secular universities in addition to traditional theological academies was that made by Mikhail Posnov (1873–1931), a biblicist and church historian who taught at Kiev Theological Academy and, for a time, at Kiev University. Responding in large part to the 1906 decision by a commission of university professors to abolish the teaching of theology in Russia’s universities, Posnov maintained that theological faculties in universities and the church’s theological academies had markedly distinct functions. Indeed, Posnov advocated a diversification of aca-

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demic contexts for the teaching of Orthodox theology, which, in addition to secular universities, would include reorganizing theological academies into two types: for those of monastic leanings and for those not interested in pursuing a monastic path.76 In his estimation, this diversification in theological education would lend itself to a creative competition among the different schools, stimulating thought and Orthodoxy’s living engagement with pressing contemporary issues. Posnov was a particular advocate of the teaching of religion (which, for him, included theology) in secular universities. The 1906 decision of university professors to exclude the teaching of Orthodoxy from the university curriculum, in his estimation, was shortsighted and academically unsound. Academics’ defense of the university’s “a-confessionalism,” in his view, was disingenuous, since the methodological positivism that informed modern scholarship was no less a form of confessionalism.77 Posnov challenged the conventional modern view that faith by definition was antithetical to scientific knowledge. Faith, or “confessionalism,” in his view, simply offered another perspective on a particular religious tradition (in this case, Christianity); it offered one among several “types” of appropriation of Christianity. “Only an extremely crude understanding [of religion],” he maintained, “could reduce religious faith to the sum of dogmas, canons, and rituals.”78 Arguing against such positivist parochialism, Posnov—who might be seen as an early advocate for the discipline of religious studies—claimed that no university education could be academically sound without taking into account the formative influence of Christianity (and religion more broadly speaking) in human history. The task of the university was to introduce those students who were interested, whatever their own religious convictions might be, not only to this history, but to the ideas and philosophical and theological questions that informed Christian worldviews. Accordingly, Posnov favored folding the study of Orthodoxy into a curriculum that focused on the study of Christianity more broadly. Such a context would provide the optimal environment for discussion and debate, in turn stimulating specifically Orthodox thought, which, he believed, should develop and evolve as any other realm of human knowledge.79 Anticipating the opposition to his views among some of his church colleagues, Posnov dismissed as a form of sacrilege any fears of the


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university’s potential corrupting influence on Orthodoxy (or any religious faith). Such fears testified not only to a seeming distrust of the power of faith, Posnov maintained, but also to an improper dualistic understanding of church and world, Christianity and culture.80 Posnov criticized both university and ecclesiastical disregard for the interest in religion among Russia’s educated elite, pointing especially to the thought of such luminaries of Russian religious thought as Vladimir Soloviev, Sergei Trubetskoi, Nikolai Berdyaev, and the work of the St. Petersburg religiousphilosophical society. Although often working independently from the church, Posnov claimed that the teaching of theology in Russia’s secular universities would help facilitate dialogue between church and society and, in the end, foster cultural cohesion.


Debates over Orthodoxy and higher education in the decades before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution reflect an array of issues and concerns which remain relevant not only to post-Soviet Russia, but also to Orthodox Christianity more globally, as its adherents consider the relationships between faith and knowledge, religion, theology, and the university. These debates, along with the history of the university and the theological academy in Russia, provide historical insight into modern Orthodox thinking about religion, theology, and higher education, which helps to contextualize questions concerning Orthodoxy and higher education both in recent decades in the West and in post-Soviet Russia. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many of Russia’s academically trained Orthodox scholars were highly committed to their vocations and sought to incorporate Orthodox theology and the study of Orthodoxy into the university curriculum. Their efforts, however, were often stymied by the perceived ambiguous position they occupied between the “secular” and “ecclesial.” Students and university colleagues often viewed these scholars as outsiders because of their ties to the state church; members of the institutional church, in turn—especially its hierarchy—often underestimated or overlooked these scholars’ academic efforts as a result of their teaching in secular universities and, therefore,

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generally favored appointing ordained clergy to university positions in order to reinforce their institutional bonds to the church and to enable their service as university chaplains. This paradoxical position of theology as a subject of study in secular universities has emerged once again in post-Soviet Russia.81 While Orthodoxy in post-Soviet Russia has enjoyed successes with the establishment of more than a half dozen faith-based universities and institutes, not all of which are subsidized by the Russian Orthodox Church, the teaching of Orthodox theology in secular universities has seen a more troubled trajectory.82 In 1993, almost immediately following the fall of communism, the Russian government unilaterally—without consulting church officials—embraced the idea of teaching about Orthodoxy (which, at the time, was widely perceived as symbolic of free thought) in Russia’s secular universities. Although such initiatives initially met little resistance, the issue eventually garnered widespread attention—as the 2007 open letter of ten academics from Russia’s Academy of Sciences quoted at the outset of this essay demonstrates—and reflected the cultural wars in which postSoviet society became embroiled. Those opposed to the establishment of these faculties viewed them as a flagrant violation of Russia’s constitutional separation of church and state and little more than another power play by the Moscow Patriarchate. The establishment of a faculty of theology at Russia’s premier National Research Nuclear University in 2012 in particular resulted in a wave of heated public debate, which followed student protests regarding the placement of a cross in a central location on the campus two years earlier.83 The Ministry of Education’s decision in September 2015 to include theology (teologiia) in its list of academic disciplines for which doctoral degrees may be awarded by Russia’s secular universities did not settled the matter.84 Perhaps the most significant legacy that Russia’s early twentiethcentury academic theologians left was their virtually unanimous view that as long as Orthodoxy was associated with the state, its teaching in secular universities would be understood as little more than a politically driven ideology, and would only serve to impede the free, creative thought that a living faith demands. The character of the Moscow Patriarchate’s foray into the public sphere since the fall of communism has once again led many of Russia’s educated elite to dismiss the teaching of theology in


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Russia’s secular universities as little more than ideological indoctrination and hegemonic identity formation parallel to that of Marxist-Leninist philosophy during the Soviet era.85 The Moscow Patriarchate’s arguments about the curricular relevance and strategic “cultural imperative” of the study of religion and theology (Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist) in secular institutions has done little to calm opponents’ fears of any of the religions’ intrusion into the university context. Patriarch Kirill has argued that the cultivation of religious literacy from insiders’ points of view in Russia’s postatheist society can act as a cultural prophylactic against the spread of religious extremism.86 Yet, given the history of church and state relations in Russia, the patriarch’s simultaneous advocacy of “cooperation” between the university and the dioceses—of a “social partnership” between the church and secular institutions of higher education—has undermined his insistence that church officials “in no way seek to interfere in the secular processes of education.”87 Nineteenth- and early twentieth-century debates concerning the teaching of theology in Russia’s secular universities raised a host of concerns regarding the teaching of theology and religion that remain unresolved in contemporary post-Soviet Russia and that still persist in the United States as well. The task of the university, definitions of the secular, methodological approaches to the study and teaching of religion and theology in the secular context, the distinction between religious studies and theology, and debates over the critical “insider”/“outsider” perspectives— all of these issues familiar to scholars of religion and theology in the United States have found a new hearing in post-Soviet Russia.88 In an attempt to counter what they believe is an “outsider’s,” if not atheistic, approach claimed by Russia’s new faculties of religious studies, advocates of including theology in the university curriculum have argued that only “insiders” to the various religious traditions can offer students genuine understandings of these worldviews, and, in their estimation, the teaching of theology even in the university context presupposes “insiders.”89 At the same time, such advocates have also acknowledged differences between professional theological education aimed at the training of clergy and theology as an academic discipline in the university. In order to circumvent charges of proselytizing, Orthodox advocates of theological studies in state universities have drawn a terminological distinction between teologiia— which they identify as a theology packaged for a secular context meant to

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cultivate a religiously informed intelligentsia—and bogoslovie (technically also translated as “theology), a subject reserved specifically for seminaries and theological academies.90 Detractors have found this distinction also unconvincing, insisting that the subject matter proposed by the discipline of theology overlaps with that of already established departments of religious studies. In their eyes, the establishment of theology departments— even if inclusive of various religious traditions—is simply a way to subject the faculty in these departments to the institutional oversight of the religions about which they teach, thereby, again, infringing on the autonomy that the university setting is meant to foster and protect. The late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century debates showed that academically trained Orthodox scholars were not uniform in their thinking on issues concerning Orthodoxy and secular higher education. As with their counterparts in other faith traditions, Russia’s Eastern Orthodox believers have historically been a highly diverse group, and, therefore, seeking the Orthodox view—then as now—on this and related issues would be futile. In this respect, among the more germane views to emerge from debates regarding Orthodoxy, theology, and the university were those concerning the issue of vocation and the place of the scholar vis-à-vis the institutional church. The majority of Russia’s academically trained theologians and scholars were laymen who, not being ordained into the clerical ranks of the church’s institutional hierarchy or tonsured monastics, often found themselves marginalized within the ecclesiastical establishment.91 As Natalia Sukhova, a well-known historian of Orthodoxy and higher education in Russia, has noted, the prevailing sensibility that marked much of the discussion concerning Orthodoxy and higher education during this time period was that the academic, scholarly endeavor was a vocation in its own right; scholars need not be “validated” or “confirmed” by ordination or any other church-related service.92 Contemporary Orthodox churches, in contrast, often remain very much focused on ordination and monasticism with respect to defining and evaluating ecclesial vocation, and regard work beyond the institutional ecclesiastical structures as “secular” and somehow a “lesser” vocation in Orthodox terms. The ways in which many of Russia’s academically trained thinkers’ challenged the ecclesiastical institutional status quo, therefore, remains no less relevant than it was more than a century ago.


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NOTES 1. “Politika RPTs: Konsolidatsiia ili razval strany?,” Novaia Gazeta. Prilozhenie “Kentavr,” no. 3, July 22, 2007. For an English translation, see “Open Letter to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir V. Putin from the Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences,” SCPESIS, http://scepsis.net/eng/ articles/id_8.php. 2. The topic of teaching theology in post-Soviet Russia’s secular universities dates to 1992. Issues concerning the teaching of religion and theology in institutions of higher education continue to attract attention in Russia. See, for instance, the conference “Theology in Institutions of Higher Education,” sponsored by the Moscow Patriarchate in November 2012: “Teologiia v vuzakh: Real’nost’ i opaseniia,” Pravoslavie i mir, November 28, 2012, http://www.pravmir .ru/teologiya-v-vuzax-realnost-i-opaseniya/. For the consultation’s summary points, see “Itogovoi dokument Patriarshego soveshchenaiia ‘Teologiia v vuzakh: Vzaimodeistvie Tserkvi, gosudarstva i obshchestva,’” Patriarchia.ru, accessed November 1, 2015, http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/2622170.html. The following year, a conference entitled “Scientific and Religious Cognition of the World” was held in Moscow and cosponsored by both secular and faith-based institutions of higher learning: “Konferentsiia ‘Nauchnoe i religioznoe poznanie mira,’” December 1, 2013, Sreda: issledovatel’skaia sluzhba, last accessed December 20, 2014, http://sreda.org/ru/2013/konferentsiya-nauchnoe-i-religioznoe-poznanie -mira/32659. 3. Cornelia Dean, “Scientists Speak Up on Mix of God and Science,” New York Times, August 23, 2005. 4. The topic of the teaching of theology in Russia’s secular universities has been and continues to be a subject of heated public debate in post-Soviet Russia. For overviews of the issues, see Aleksandr Zhuravskii, “Problemy religioznogo obrazovaniia v Rossii,” Kontinent, no. 114 (2002); Ivar Kh. Maksutov, “Theology in Higher Education in Post-Soviet Russia (1991–2008),” Journal of Religion in Europe 1 (2008): 182–99. For examples of debates, see the televised broadcast “Pravoslavnaia entsiklopediia,” hosted by the well-known Moscow priest Aleksei Uminskii, for September 29, 2007, devoted to the topic of Orthodoxy and secular knowledge, Predanie.ru, accessed December 30, 2014, http://predanie .ru/uminskiy-aleksiy-ierey/video/1681-cepkovnaya-i-cvetckaya-nayka-2007-09 -29/; see also the discussion regarding knowledge and theology on Radio Free Europe’s “From the Christian Point of View,” hosted by the priest Yakov Krotov, on August 16, 2007, http://krotov.info/library/17_r/radio_svoboda/20070816 .htm.

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5. Paul Valliere, Modern Russian Theology: Bukharev, Soloviev, Bulgakov; Orthodox Theology in a New Key (Edinburg: T & T Clark, 2000), 2. 6. While often rendered as “science,” the term nauka in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Russia was used more in line with the German notion of Wissenschaft, which referred not only to the natural sciences, but to the systematic pursuit of knowledge more broadly speaking, including subjects which today we would place under the umbrella term “the liberal arts.” In this essay, I use this term to refer to this broader notion unless otherwise indicated. Thomas Sanders, “The Chechulin Affair, or Politics and nauka in the History Profession of Late Imperial Russia,” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 49, no. 1 (2001): 1; Alexander Vucinich, Science in Russian Culture: A History to 1860 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1963), 47. 7. For the history of the university in Russia in general, and the place of theology in its curriculum more specifically, see, as examples, A. E. Ivanov, Vysshaia shkola Rossii v kontse XIX-nachale XX veka (Moscow: Akademiia nauk SSSR, 1991); Anatolii Avrus, Istoriia rossiiskikh universitetov (Moscow: Moskovskii obshchestvennyi i nauchnyi fond, 2001); F. A. Petrov, Formirovanie sistemy universitetskogo obrazovaniia v Rossii, 4 vols. (Moscow: Izd-vo Moskovskogo Universiteta, 2002–3); A. N. Donin and V. A. Dines, Universitetskie reformy v Rossii: Obshchestvennaia mysl’ i praktika, vtoraia polovina XIX v. (Saratov: Saratovskii gosudarstvennyi sotsial’no ekonomicheskii universitet, 2003); A. Iu. Andreev, Rossiiskie universitety XVIII-pervoi poloviny XIX veka v kontekste universitetskoi istorii Evropy (Moscow: Znak, 2009); Yury Zaretskiy, “The Russian State and Its Universities: A History of the Present,” December 1, 2012, Social Science Research Network, http://ssrn.com/abstract=2183616; N.A. Kutsenko, Filosofiia, filologiia, teologiia v obrazovatel’noi sisteme Rossiiskoi imperii XIX veka (Moscow: Institut filosofii RAN, 2013). 8. “Proekt ob uchrezhdenii Moskovskogo universiteta,” Istoriia Imperatorskogo Moskovskogo universiteta, http://museum.guru.ru/relikvii/arhiv/ukaz _24011755/ukaz_24011755.phtml. 9. “O prepodavanii bogoslovskikh nauk v russkikh universitetakh,” Pravoslavnoe obozrenie, no. 5 (May 1862): 43. 10. For an excellent overview of the history of the teaching of theology in Russia’s universities, see Nataliia Sukhova, “Bogoslovskie nauki v universitetakh— traditsiia i perspektivy,” in N. Iu. Sukhova, Vertograd nauk dukhovnyi: Sbornik statei po istorii vysshego dukhovnogo obrazovaniia v Rossii XIX-nachala XX veka (Moscow: Pravoslavnyi Sviato-Tikhonovskii gumanitarnyi universitet, 2007), 326–44. 11. “Universitety Rossii,” Iuridicheskii fakultet MGU, accessed September  30, 2015, http://www.law.msu.ru/teaching/reference/120. See also Ol’ga


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Kir’ianova, “Razvitie bogoslovskogo obrazovaniia—uslovie podlinnogo vozrozhdeniia Rossii,” December 25, 2008, Pravoslavie.ru, accessed November 1, 2014, http://www.pravoslavie.ru/28819.html. 12. “O sostavlenii plana dlia zavedeniia universitetov v Pskove, Chernigove i Penze,” Polnoe sobranie zakonov rossiiskoi imperii, Ser. 1 (1830), vol. 22, no. 16.315, 526. 13. Linell E. Cady and Delwin Brown, eds., Religious Studies, Theology, and the University: Conflicting Maps, Changing Terrain (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002); Gavin D’Costa, “Theology and Religious Studies OR Theology versus Religious Studies?,” in Theology and Religious Studies in Higher Education, ed. D. L. Bird and Simon G. Smith (London: Continuum International Publishing, 2009), 46–47. 14. P. Miliukov, “Universitet v Rossii,” in Entsiklopedicheskii slovar’, ed. F.  A. Brokhaus and I. A. Efron (St. Petersburg: Brokhaus and Efron, 1902), 68:789. The teaching of Orthodox theology, church history, and canon law saw variations among the various universities, especially between those located in central Russia, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, and western Baltic regions of the empire, such as Dorpat (Tartu) in Estonia. 15. E. S. Liakhovich and A. S. Revushkin, Universitety v istorii i kul’ture dorevoliutsionnoi Rossii (Tomsk: Izdatel’stvo Tomskogo universiteta, 1998), 78. 16. For a history of the phenomenon of unbelief in Russia, see Victoria Frede, Doubt, Atheism, and the Nineteenth-Century Russian Intelligentsia (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2011). 17. Vucinich, Science in Russian Culture, 234; A. D. Sukhov, Literaturnofilosofskie kruzhki v istorii Russkoi filosofii (20-50-e gody XIX veka) (Moscow: IF RAN: 2009), 4. 18. Miliukov, “Universitet v Rossii,” 791; M. V. Novikov and T. B. Perfilova, “Reviziia universitetskogo Ustava 1804,” Iaroslavskii pedagogicheskii vestnik 1, no. 2 (2012): 11–16. 19. Elena Lebedeva, “I slaven nash Tat’ianin den: V Moskovskom Universitete ne bylo ‘bogoslovskogo fakulteta,’ no bogoslovie prepodavalos’ ne khuzhe chem v universitetakh Evropy.” Moskovskii gosudarstvennyi universitet imeni M. V. Lomonosova, January 25, 2008, http://www.msu.ru/press/smiaboutmsu _arch/i_slaven_nash_tatyanin_den_v_moskovskom_universitete_ne_bylo _bogoslovskogo_fakulteta_no_bogoslovie_t.html. 20. Ibid. 21. The results of these discussions can be found in N. Sergievskii, “O luchshem ustroistve kafedry bogosloviia v nashikh universitetakh,” Pravoslavnoe obozrenie, no. 10 (October 1865): 186–216. Raised in a clerical family and trained in the specialty of mathematical physics during his seminary years,

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Nikolai Sergievskii completed graduate training in theology at the Moscow and St. Petersburg Theological Academies. Eventually ordained, he began his career as a parish priest who ministered to the poor before being appointed as professor of theology, logic, and psychology in Moscow University in 1858 and of theology alone in 1861, a position he held for some forty years. He also served as founding editor of the progressive theological journal Orthodox Review (Pravoslavnoe obozrenie). 22. The history of higher theological education in prerevolutionary Russia—especially its theological academies—has become a subject of broad interest in post-Soviet Russia. For examples, see V. A. Tarasova, Vysshaia dukhovnaia shkola v Rossii v kontse XIX-nachale XX veka: Istoriia imperatorskikh pravoslavnykh dukhovnykh akademii (Moscow: Novyi khronograf, 2005); N. Iu Sukhova, Vertograd nauk dukhovnyi. 23. P. Svetlov, “Mesto bogosloviia v sem’e universitetskikh nauk,” Khristianskoe chtenie, no. 11 (November 1897): 320. Pavel Svetlov was a priest and graduate of Moscow Theological Academy and, beginning in 1897, a professor at Kiev University. 24. S. S. Glagolev, “Zadachi russkoi bogoslovskoi shkoly,” Bogoslovskii vestnik, no. 11 (November 1905): 413–14. 25. Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Scholarship Grounded in Religion,” in Religion, Scholarship, and Higher Education: Perspectives, Models, and Future Prospects, ed. Andrea Sterk (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002), 3–8; Douglas Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 94. 26. S. S. Glagolev, “Istina i nauka,” Bogoslovskii vestnik, no. 12 (December 1908): 503. 27. Svetlov, “Mesto bogosloviia,” 323. 28. P. I. Linitskii, “Filosofiia nashego vremeni,” Vera i razum, kn. 2, no. 19, otd. Filosofskii (October 1891): 287. 29. T. Butkevich, “Slovo v den’ prepodobnago Antoniia Velikago: O khristianskikh nachalakh nauchnago obrazovaniia,” Vera i razum, kn. 2, otd. Tserkovnyi ( January 1903): 67–78. 30. Linitskii, “Filosofiia nashego vremeni,” 287–304. 31. N. N., “Khristianstvo i noveishaia nauka,” Strannik, no. 19 (October 1903): 558. 32. Sv. A. Ivantsov-Platonov, “O predubezhdeniiakh liudei protiv bogoslovskikh nauk,” Pravoslavnoe obozrenie, no. 1 ( January 1863): 24; Svetlov, “Mesto bogosloviia,” 331. It is noteworthy, however, that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some two-thirds of professors of philosophy in Russia’s secular universities were graduates of one of Russia’s four theological academies. Kutzenko, Filosofiia, filologiia, teologiia, 19.


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33. A. F. Preobrazhenskii, “Mesto i znachenie bogosloviia v organizme universitetskago obrazovaniia,” Izvestiia imperatorskago Nikolaevskago universiteta 11, vyp. 1 (Saratov: n.p., 1911): 5. 34. Ioann Filevskii, “Slovo v den’ prepodobnago Antoniia Velikago o soiuze mezhdu veroiu i naukoi,” Vera i razum, kn. 2, otd. Bogoslovsko-filosofskii (January 1908): 176; George M. Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 156. 35. Glagolev, “Zadachi russkoi bogoslovskoi shkoly,” 415–16. 36. “O prepodavanii bogoslovskikh nauk,” 34–35. 37. Sergievskii, “O luchshem ustroistve,” 190, 204–6. 38. N. I. Pirogov, Dopolnenie k zamechaniiami na proekt obshchego ustava imperatorskikh rossiiskikh universitetov: Universitetskii vopros (St. Petersburg, 1863), 326–27, 382–83. 39. Sergievskii, “O luchshem ustroistve,” 200–204. 40. S. S. Glagolev, “Otsutstvie religioznago obrazovaniia v sovremennom obshchestve,” Bogoslovskii vestnik, no. 10 (October 1912): 284. 41. “O prepodavanii bogoslovskikh nauk,” 42. 42. Ivantsov-Platonov, “O predubezhdeniiakh liudei,” 26. 43. Svetlov, “Mesto bogosloviia,” 329. 44. Preobrazhenskii, “Mesto i znachenie,” 7–8. 45. Ibid., 10. 46. Glagolev, “Otsutstvie religioznago obrazovaniia v sovremennom obshchestve,” 276. 47. Butkevich, “Slovo v den’ prepodobnago Antoniia Velikago,” 69–70. 48. For a history of the development of theology as a “science” in Russia, see N. Iu. Sukhova, “Stanovlenie i razvitie bogoslovskoi nauki v Rossii: Problemy i puti ikh reshenie (vtoraia polovina XIX-nachalo XX v.),” in Materialy XVII Ezhegodnoi bogoslovskoi konferentsii Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta (Moscow: PSTGU, 2007), 1:325–35. 49. While the majority of doctoral graduates from Russia’s theological academies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were not ordained, professors appointed to teach in Russia’s universities were usually chosen from ordained clergy, in part for the practical reason that they were also able to serve simultaneously as university chaplains and, in part, to ensure the instructor’s accountability vis-à-vis church officials. See, for example, the comment of, Germogen, the bishop of Saratov, “Preosviashchennyi Germogen, episkop Saratovskii, 7 January 1906,” in Otzyvy eparkhial’nykh arkhiereev po voprosu o tserkovnoi reforme (St. Petersburg: Sinoldal’naia tipografiia, 1906), 3:356–57. 50. Filevskii, “Slovo v den’ prepodobnago Antoniia Velikago o soiuze mezhdu veroiu i naukoi,” 176.

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51. Sergievskii, “O luchshem ustroistve,” 190. 52. N. N., “Khristianstvo i noveishaia nauka,” 558. 53. “O prepodavanii bogoslovskikh nauk,” 56–57; S. S. Glagolev, “Novoe miroponimanie,” Bogoslovskii vestnik, no. 1 (January 1911): 3–4. 54. Sergievskii, “O luchshem ustroistve,” 204–10. 55. N. Drozdov, “Zaprosy sovremennoi zhizni v otnoshenii k bogoslovskoi nauke,” Trudy Kievskoi Dukhovnoi Akademii, no. 10 (October 1885): 221–24. 56. Sergievskii, “O luchshem ustroistve,” 209–10. 57. Glagolev, “Otsutstvie religioznago obrazovaniia v sovremennom obshchestve,” 295. 58. “O prepodavanii bogoslovskikh nauk,” 43. 59. Svetlov, “Mesto bogoslovii,” 334–35. 60. N. N. Glubokovskii, “K voprosu o postanovke vysshego bogoslovskago izucheniia v Rossii,” in Otzyvy eparkhial’nykh arkhiereev, 3:159–61. 61. P. Svetlov, “K voprosu o reforme vysshego bogoslovskago obrazovaniia v Rossii,” Zhurnaly i protokoly zasedanii Vysochaishe uchrezhdennago Predsobornago prisutstviia, vol. 4, otd. 5 (St. Petersburg: Sinoldal’naia tipografiia, 1906), 48, 51. 62. Ibid., 58–61. It is noteworthy that following Svetlov’s impassioned speech with its sometimes radical views at the preconciliar sessions, the theologian and biblical scholar Nikolai Glubokovskii reversed many of his earlier views on the topic of theology and the university and came to the defense of the academies. Ibid., 53–54. 63. Ibid., 47–50. 64. See, for instance, Sergius Bulgakov’s argument for the inclusion of the teaching of social sciences in theological academies in S. N. Bulgakov, “O neobkhodimosti vvedeniia obshchestvennykh nauk v programmu dukhovnoi shkoly,” Bogoslovskii vestnik 1, no. 2 (1906): 345–56. 65. I. V. Popov, Zhurnaly i protokoly, 48–50. 66. Ibid., 49–51. 67. Ioann Sokolov, “O prepodavanii bogosloviia v nashikh universitetakh,” Khristianskoe chtenie, no. 2 (February 1866): 141–91. 68. See comments by A. I. Almazov (1859–1920) in Zhurnaly i protokoly, 4:47, 67. Almazov was a graduate of Kazan Theological Academy and taught canon law as part of the Faculty of Law at Novorossiisk University in Odessa from 1887 to 1912; in 1912 he was appointed professor of canon law at Moscow University and also taught at the Moscow Theological Academy. 69. See, for example, the comments in Zhurnaly i protokoly, 47, by Professor M. A. Ostroumov (1847–1920), a graduate of Moscow Theological Academy and later professor at the same academy before accepting a position at the University of Kharkov; by priest S. T. Golubev (1848–1920), professor at the Kiev


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Theological Academy and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences; and by A. I. Almazov. For excellent overviews of the debates concerning reform of Russia’s theological academies, which included discussion of the potential for faculties of theology in Russia’s secular universities, see Prot. Nikolai Emel’ianov, “Bogoslovie v sisteme znaniia (po materialam diskusii o vysshem dukhovnom obrazovanii v 1905–1906),” Vestnik PSTGU 45, no. 2 (2012): 7–19; N. Iu. Sukhova, “Obsuzhdenie problem vysshego bogoslovskogo obrazovaniia na Pomestnom Sobore 1917–1918,” Vestnik PSTGU, Istoriia, vyp. 4 (25) (2007): 28–45; V. A. Tarasova, “Na pereput’e: Polemika po voprosam reform vysshei dukhovnoi shkoly v Rossii v nachale XX veka,” Vstrecha 1 (7) (1998): 14–22; Tarasova, Vysshaia dukhovnaia shkola, 297–422. 70. See comments by A. I. Almazov and N. A. Zaozerskii (1851–1919), a graduate and professor at Moscow Theological Academy, in Zhurnaly i protokoly, 47, 51. It is noteworthy that in 1906, university professors held parallel discussions regarding the role and place of professors of theology in secular universities, with a majority opposing their teaching in universities. See Emel’ianov, “Bogoslovie v sisteme znaniia,” 10; M. Posnov, “K voprosu ob uchrezhdenii bogoslovskikh fakultetov,” Trudy Kievskoi Dukhovnoi Akademii, no. 4 (1906): 667–88. 71. Ioann Sokolov, Zhurnaly i protokoly, 53. 72. See, for example, the comment of I. S. Pal’mov (1855–1920), a graduate and professor of church history at St. Petersburg Theological Academy and later a member of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, in Zhurnaly i protokoly, 174–75. 73. Popov, Zhurnaly i protokoly, 66; see also comments by T. Butkevich, Zhurnaly i protokoly, 168. 74. V. S. Serebrenikov, Zhurnaly i protokoly, 171–72. Serebrenikov was among the students and faculty of the theological academies whose work was highly influenced by their education and research trips abroad. See R. K. Lesaev, “Predstaviteli Sankt-Peterburgskoi Dukhovnoi Akademii v nauchnykh zarubezhnykh komandirovkakh (1869–1917),” accessed December 1, 2015, http:// christian-reading.info/data/2014/0203/2014-0203-07.pdf. 75. A. P. Rozhdestvenskii, Zhurnaly i protokoly, 126. 76. Posnov, “K voprosu ob uchrezhdenii bogoslovskikh fakultetov,” 679. 77. Ibid., 676–78. 78. Ibid., 679. 79. Ibid., 676, 681. 80. Ibid., 674. 81. Regarding the paradoxical positioning of faculties of theology in Russia’s secular universities today, see the comments of Anna Zdor, assistant director of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Far Eastern Federal Univer-

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sity in Vladivostok, in Prot. Vladimir Vorob’ev, “Nuzhna li ‘svetskaia’ teologiia Tserkvi?,” Zhurnal Moskovskoi Patriarkhii, no. 1 (January 2013), http://e-vestnik .ru/science/nuzhna_li_laquosvetskayaraquo_teologia_cerkvi/. For parallel debates in the West, see, for example, Cady and Brown, Religious Studies, Theology, and the University. 82. For a list of faith-based institutes and universities in Russia, see “Orthodox Christian Educational Institutions,” OCP Media Network, http://the orthodoxchurch.info/main/ocei/. Also see Perry L. Glanzer, “Resurrecting Universities with Soul: Christian Higher Education in Post-Communist Europe,” in Christian Higher Education: A Global Reconnaissance, ed. Joel Carpenter, Perry L. Glanzer, and Nick Lantinga (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 163–90; Joseph Loya, O.S.A., and Tatiana Kravchuk, “Russian Orthodox Religious Education Initiatives in Post-Soviet Russia: Update and Commentary,” Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe 36, no. 2 (March 2016): n.p. 83. Evgeny Nasyrov, “Bunt v ‘kuznitse kadrov’ rossiiskoi iadernoi otrasli: Studenty MIFI protestuiut protiv perenosa pamiatnika MIFIcheskomu studentu, na meste kotorogo k vizitu Patriarkha ustanovili krest,” Credo.ru, March 5, 2010, accessed December 1, 2014, www.portal-credo.ru/site/?act=monitor &id=14851. For a more apologetic assessment of the establishment of this faculty, see Anna Danilova, “Kafedra teologii v MIFI: 6 faktov k diskusii,” Pravmir.ru, June 11, 2013, http://www.pravmir.ru/teologia-miphi/. 84. For examples of the controversy, see Oksana Kotkina, “Nepoznavaemoe vozveli v uchennuiu stepen’,” NG. Religii, October 8, 2015, http://www.ng.ru/ ng_religii/2015-10-21/1_theology.html; Elena Kudriavtseva, “Dissertatsiia ot Boga,” Ogonek 41 (October 19, 2015): 14. 85. Evgenii Teterev, “Umestna li ‘religioznaia nauka’ v svetskom gosudarstve?,” Pravda, no. 118, October 23, 2015; Alisa Orlova, “Teologiia v vuzakh: Real’nost’ i opaseniia,” Pravmir.ru, December 2, 2012, http://www.pravmir.ru/ teologiya-v-vuzax-realnost-i-opaseniya/; Aleksandr Soldatov, “‘Svetskaia’ teologiia: Nauka o tom, kak nauchit’sia vere, ne stav veruiushchim,” Otechestvennye zapiski, no. 1 (2002), http://www.strana-oz.ru/2002/1/svetskaya-teologiya-nauka -o-tom-kak-nauchitsya-vere-ne-stav-veruyushchim. 86. In this we find consonance with US Secretary of State John Kerry’s support of teaching about religion in America’s secular institutions of higher education, maintaining that “we ignore the global impact of religion at our peril.” John Kerry, “Towards a Better Understanding of Religion and Global Affairs,” America: The National Catholic Review, September 14, 2015, http://america magazine.org/issue/religion-and-diplomacy; Patriarch Kirill, “Vystuplenie Sviateishego Patriarkha Kirilla na soveshchanii ‘Teologiia vzaimodeistvie Tserkvi, gosudarstva i obshchestva,” Patriarchia.ru, November 28, 2012, http://www


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.patriarchia.ru/db/text/2619652.html. On the idea of religious literacy, see Stephen Prothero, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—and Doesn’t (New York: HarperOne, 2008). 87. Patriarch Kirill, “Vystuplenie Sviateishego Patriarkha Kirilla.” 88. For parallels in the West, see in particular Cady and Brown, Religious Studies, Theology, and the University; for the UK, Bird and Smith, eds., Theology and Religious Studies. 89. Soldatov, “‘Svetskaia’ teologiia”; Aleksandr Krasnikov, “Teologiia v svetskikh vuzakh: Pro et contra,” Nezavisimaia gazeta, July 25, 2001, http:// www.ng.ru/ng_religii/2001-07-25/6_teology.html. 90. Olga Samsonova, “V Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi ne shchitaiut prepodavanie teologii vnedreniem tserkvi v obrazovanie,” Ria Novosti, November 27, 2012, http://ria.ru/society/20121127/912448040.html; Vorob’ev, “Nuzhna li ‘svetskaia’ teologiia Tserkvi?” 91. See the interview with historian Natalia Sukhova, “Teologiia v Rossii i v mire,” Pravoslavnyi Sviato-Tikhonovskii Gumanitarnyi Universitet, August 11, 2013, http://pstgu.ru/news/life/Teologiya_v_Rossii_i_v_mire/2013/08/13 /47603/. 92. Sukhova, “Obsuzhdenie problem,” 40.




conteMPorAry AcAdeMy



A N O R TH O D OX U NIVERS IT Y I N L E B A N ON A Rich Legacy and Insistent Calling

g eorges n. n AhAs


Lebanon is a small country where eighteen different religious communities have tried to live together peacefully since independence in 1943.1 Unfortunately, the confessionalism2 enacted by the Lebanese Constitution, in the hope of achieving stability, has itself contributed a number of serious challenges to peace that governments have not been able to overcome. As a result, the past sixty years have seen frequent internal factions and wars.3 Yet in the midst of a country and people exhausted by bitter, violent, sectarian conflict, in a spirit of openness and conciliarity, his Beatitude the Antiochian Patriarch, Ignatius IV, considered it the duty of the Orthodox Church in Lebanon to found a university, the University of Balamand, in 1988.4 An Orthodox university was a chance for the church to develop higher education that would provide broadening experiences for 201


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young people, open new horizons for their futures, and bear witness to God in a country divided by eighteen years of civil war. The University of Balamand (UOB) fits into the educational system of Lebanon in a unique way that reflects the mission the university pursues, the challenges it has faced and is facing, and the historical factors outside the Lebanese Orthodox model that influenced those involved in founding UOB. Nevertheless, Orthodox scholars in the United States who discuss the relationship between faith and learning may benefit from a consideration of the history of UOB. I speak from my experiences with the project over the last twenty-five years; although currently I am the dean of the Institute of Theology and vice president for planning and educational relations, I was blessed to develop the launching phase of the university after the official decree founding the university, Decree #4885, was published on June 4, 1988.5


Both private and public universities have shaped the educational system in Lebanon. While there is only one public university, Lebanese University, with fifty branch sites spread throughout Lebanon, there are fortyseven different private institutions of higher education, with the oldest, the American University of Beirut, dating from 1866. Two of the University of Balamand’s founding faculties, the Académie Libanaise des BeauxArts and the Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology, date from 1936 and 1970, respectively. Despite this deep and rich tradition, higher education has suffered greatly as a result of the Lebanese war. Political confusion, confessional tensions, and lenient policies in education created a “fait accompli” between 1992 and 1996, with several institutions being recognized as institutions of higher education even though they fell far short of educational ideals. A confusing diversity of standards and priorities made it difficult for students and professors to achieve academic continuity when moving between institutions.6 Even after a new decree in 1996 led to a commitment to develop a better quality of learning, it became impossible to stop the emergence of profit-based institutions, each with specific political

An Orthodox University in Lebanon


support.7 The war also had an impact on the type of training that universities were able to offer, due to factors such as the exodus of qualified professors (both Lebanese and foreigners), the difficulty of maintaining research, and the near-impossibility of recruiting new PhD graduates. Self-segregation in the Lebanese population along religious confessions resulted in universities with similar divisions, with the majority of students and faculty in each university belonging to a specific religious confession. Further educational tragedy resulted when, at times, these institutional factions were targeted for ideological reasons by opposing factions. It was in this atmosphere, with a vision for a more inclusive institution, that the decision to launch the University of Balamand was born.


The University of Balamand was officially founded in June 1988, two years before the Taif Agreement began the process of ending the Lebanese civil war. The new institution was intentionally located at the historical site of Balamand, near Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery, which dates back to the twelfth century and is an important Orthodox center of worship—but one set within a Muslim area.8 The university was created by merging the Académie Libanaise des Beaux Arts and the Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology, and by adding the new Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Within the existing system of higher education, UOB manifested important novelties. First, it was the first university in Lebanon to have its main campus outside the capital or its vicinity. Second, it was designed to be a university where the full range of different religious confessions felt at home. And third, the university took a strong position regarding Lebanon: it espoused a vision of the country as unified and free for all. Being launched by the Orthodox Church did not in any way obstruct the aim of the founders to create a new higher education institution for a new Lebanon. Launching such a university in 1988 amidst significant political, financial, and security risks was itself a message intended to encourage; within Lebanon’s ongoing struggle, constructing a new institution for nationwide dialogue and education communicated


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the message that there was another way out of the war, that living together was possible. This vision informed the new university’s mission statement to focus on three integrated but independent objectives: academic excellence, community engagement, and human development. Academic Excellence

When we on the board of trustees established these founding objectives, we chose to emphasize first a commitment to “excellence in education.” We had the difficult task of creating an appealing atmosphere for qualified professors and of proving ourselves serious enough to attract good students. We not only had to “compete” with much older universities, but we also had to operate in difficult logistic conditions imposed on us by the war. Our choice of location in northern Lebanon, far from the fighting, enabled us to attract competent candidates not only from Lebanon, but also from abroad. Community Engagement

The second objective was community engagement—supporting and developing the local community. In 1988, the university had to deal with a divided society in which government did not yet play a unifying role. To us, community engagement was as important an educational goal as academic excellence. Trying to draw people together, to involve students in the life of civil society, and to help the entire community rediscover the essence of political involvement were all tremendously important issues for us. In our planning, we linked our academic goals with the engagement of the university in the surrounding community. Human Development

The war years affected the behavior of our students in many different ways. For example, some of our eighteen-year-old students had never visited the capital of their own country, just eighty kilometers from their home, and their views had been influenced by perspectives about hu-

An Orthodox University in Lebanon


manity that were one-sided. Thus the third objective of our mission was to implant in our students ideas of love, of tolerance, and of the acceptance of the other. As with the first two objectives, our task here, too, was to promote these ideas without violating the academic freedom of our faculty and our students. All three objectives sought to meet concrete and critical needs we discerned amongst Lebanese youth; those entering university had grown up knowing nothing but war. Lebanon, we hoped, was facing a turning point; she desperately needed new leaders, thinkers, inventors, creators of media, and shapers of culture who would take her in a peaceful and fruitful direction. Further, many positive changes of the second half of the twentieth century—new perspectives, new inventions, new communication tools and techniques, new standards in social sciences, and in education—had come unevenly to Lebanon and the Middle East, contributing to disparities between countries and people, threatening to become a source of new conflict. Yet precisely these changes offered important and very exciting opportunities for the development of higher education. University of Balamand was faced with the particular challenge of building, from the ground up, an education that could be a crucial vector of change in Lebanon. That challenge remains imminent today.


But even as we embarked on this bold initiative, we encountered questions. What is the church’s role as a force for change in society? Are Orthodox communities ready to involve themselves in this educational process? These questions are built on a more primary question at the heart of our discussion: are activities such as building and running universities part of the church’s ministry? Is instilling in our neighbor the kinds of attitudes and virtue that make peace and prosperity possible the church’s responsibility? Even when our neighbor’s faith is distinct from our own? Do we, as believers, really need to worry about such problematic issues? To what extent should we rely on public institutions to provide what is, arguably, a civil service, perhaps simply maintaining a receptive attitude while letting others take the lead?


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In asking such questions, we highlighted them as legitimate concerns for discussion among Christians. In the experience of UOB, the answers were not straightforward, but emerged only as a result of a profound revisiting of the role of the church in the world. We began by exploring the history of higher education in general, the particular history of the Orthodox Church in higher education, and also looking further afield at how our efforts might converge with or diverge from developments in higher education in the wider, non-Orthodox world. Finally, we arrived at a set of theological convictions that influenced the establishment of our objectives and the administrative structure and decisions that would flow from them.


Every civilization has had some form of higher education. Although specific structures varied, a vision of educating those people who would influence their society and culture strongly influenced the way that great philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists taught. The modern era has been deeply influenced by centuries of developments in educational thought. Between the era of Socrates in the fourth century BCE and that of Averroes (Ibn Rashid) in the twelfth century CE, a broad range of changing but often related educational practices formed the basis of the university spirit that influenced the foundation of universities in North Africa, the Near East, and Europe. Structured forms of higher education appeared in the Near East as early as the fourth century CE, including the so-called Academy of Gundishapur in ancient Persia (third century), the “school of Nisibis” in Edessa (fourth century),9 the “House of Wisdom” in Baghdad (ninth century), and the universities of the Arabic-Islamic World (such as Al Nizamiyya, El Zeytouneh, and Al Azhar).10 These ancient universities were each accompanied by a clear religious impact—an Islamic one in North Africa and a Christian impact in the Near East and Europe. And yet this religious influence did not hinder the support for other domains of knowledge. For example, philosophy and the sciences often flourished under such religious patronage, giving free thinkers the possibility to express themselves, even if they were persecuted

An Orthodox University in Lebanon


sometimes for their ideas.11 Universities with religious foundations continued to flourish between the twelfth and nineteenth centuries, with new universities founded by clerics, mainly in Europe and the Americas; those founded by the Jesuit Order are perhaps among the best known. Such universities often adopted “secular” models while trying to preserve their identity as institutions related to religious confessions.12


Increasingly, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the Near East and modern West saw the development of a new paradigm in higher education. This change occurred mainly via the scientific approach and in the founding of large public institutions, which took the lead in the teaching and research domains. Education was increasingly viewed as a state matter, offering politicians the opportunities to establish educational systems that served their political ideology. At the same time, in some countries (like the USA) the model was increasingly developed of private universities that were not linked to any religious confession. Today, despite many universities having roots in Protestant and Catholic traditions in the United States, those institutions that continue their commitment to a religious identity that shapes the curriculum and vision for community are in the minority. This development in higher education raises many questions. Does this “secularization” mean that religious institutions no longer have a role to play, that they were successfully replaced by other types of institutions? Is there room for merging the religious inspiration for a university and the scientific basis on which the work of such an institution must proceed? How much and to what extent can a faithbased body supervise and oversee the work of a modern university?


Additionally, the last half of the twentieth century experienced the emergence of new centers of knowledge due, mainly, to the rise in the


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importance of the industry of knowledge production. While universities had, for centuries, the exclusive privilege of knowledge production, independent research centers, founded and funded by industry, began to challenge this model. Centers like Silicone Valley and many other “technopoles,” being joint ventures between universities and industries, became new centers for applied and basic sciences. Even laboratories for human sciences developed new concepts about the behavior of human beings, as individuals and as groups. Medical centers all over the world have become the location for the development of applied and theoretical medical and health sciences. This “industrial” touch, which was in many cases driven by financial interests, further distanced the process of “knowledge production” from religious impact. From time to time ethical issues have been raised by new breakthroughs in technology, medicine, or biology, for example, and ethical thought (mainly in bioethics) has begun to play a specific role in influencing education, driven not only by religious concepts, but also by social implications. Is this rise in ethical concerns and dialogue an occasion for religions to regain their role in higher education, and if so, what form should it take? Will religious presence take shape in terms of an orientation or supervision, or in a consultancy role?


Finally, the past few decades during the turn of the twenty-first century have witnessed the birth of a new era, the era of information and communication technologies (commonly known as IT). As a result of such technological advances, it is possible today for a person to imagine total freedom from the constraints of time and space, at least in theory. We are accustomed to being able to see things (such as the cosmos, as well as international affairs) that are taking place thousands of kilometers in the distance, and we hear things spoken on the other side of the world at the very moment they occur. It is as if man has gained the battle against space and time, not always or necessarily as a victory. Certainly we welcome the advance in being able to innovate and develop tools to help humankind in a search for truth, and with these new technologies, universities can develop new educational models that take advantage of these

An Orthodox University in Lebanon


freedoms from the limitations of time and space. University education is no longer confined to its geographical space but is able to embrace a more universal dimension. These new tools can be used to overcome many difficulties encountered by institutions in spreading their message, and churches may—and often do—extensively use these same technologies. To what extent might such tools complement the churches’ efforts to play a more proactive role in society and partner in developing positive change in human civilization? All of these reflections on the development of higher education and the questions raised further underscored our communal sense: Lebanon was at a critical point in her journey, but so was the rest of the world. Rapid change and new knowledge production were outpacing most institutions’ traditional means of responding to and integrating that knowledge—including those of the Orthodox Church. Higher education was one arena to which people looked for the means to answer the challenges our new world posed. Consequently, the next area we needed to explore was the Orthodox Church’s relationship to higher education.


What has been the historical role of the Orthodox Church in higher education, and how has that role evolved in the last few centuries, especially in traditionally Orthodox countries? Orthodoxy’s Historical Environment

By the end of the fourth century in the Christian era, the church exercised total freedom of action within the legal status granted it by imperial authorities. Centers for promoting development in humanistic thought and in science, founded earlier, developed and continued to grow. Education within the culture as influenced by Christianity continued to build on science and philosophy. Over the centuries that followed, monastic communities gradually became such centers, their libraries gathering, producing, and preserving valuable manuscripts in all aspects of human


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knowledge.13 The church expressed little sense of conflict with this development of knowledge, undertaken under monastic auspices,14 and the resulting educational initiatives were important in equipping lay people (mostly men but also women) from all confessions, even after the rise of Islam in the East. Such a tradition was maintained for centuries in the East, with different development following in the West, based on the model developed in Andalusia and imported from the Arab tradition. If the Orthodox Church in the East had different models than the West for higher education, it was often a consequence of the rules imposed by the Mameluk reign (for three centuries) and then the Ottoman period (up until the twentieth century).15 State and Church: Respective Roles

Indeed, it could be said that the Orthodox Church in the East maintained, throughout its history, an awareness of how civic responsibilities differ from ecclesiastical responsibilities within the nation. This conceptual position (drastically different from the Latin one as it developed, especially following the era of Charlemagne in the early ninth century) made the Orthodox Church aware of the difference between being in charge of actions assigned to the governing bodies and being the ultimate guide of such actions.16 Until the fifteenth century, for example, the Orthodox Church existed mainly within an Orthodox environment with Orthodox rulers, the main exceptions being the sees of Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. After the fall of Constantinople, European Eastern Orthodox churches fell, as well, under the Islamic domination. Neither before nor after the fall of Constantinople did the Orthodox Church establish Orthodox universities. Before Constantinople fell, higher education was done by the state; after the fall, the church was not allowed to develop and lead initiatives in higher education. Today, vestiges of these models persist in modern states like Russia, Greece, and Romania, where Orthodoxy refuses to take the place of the state in public matters.17 This pattern of limited direct engagement of the church in social services and education can be tracked throughout history and across the world, in Asia Minor and the Near East, in Eastern Europe, and in the West and the Americas in the present.

An Orthodox University in Lebanon


Asia Minor and the Near East

The incursion of Islam across predominantly Christian territories in the seventh century culminated in an Islamic Asia Minor and the fall of Constantinople. The four historical sees were subjugated to Muslim rule, and Christians became a minority group throughout this geographical area. Eventually, under the Ottomans, religious communities that had the political and financial support of Western countries were able to begin founding medical and educational institutions. Such institutions flourished and are, in most cases, still vibrant today. However, for Orthodox Christians, the freedom to found such institutions came only at the end of the nineteenth century. Even though these institutions were relatively modest, they lacked continuity and support both internally and externally.18 The Orthodox churches lacked the Western experience of institutional administration, and had to find their way to these smaller initiatives in the midst of a hostile environment. Eastern Europe

The historical impact of changes in Eastern Europe was entirely different. After 1917, and after the Second World War, the major Orthodox churches came under communist regimes and had to endure persecution. Monastic witness continued with great difficulty at best, while all other Orthodox institutions were closed or taken over by the state. When these regimes finally came to an end throughout the 1990s in most cases, the Orthodox churches adopted the same attitude and policy they had practiced centuries earlier; that is, they left it to the legal authorities to build the institutions needed to serve the population. The Orthodox churches in general supported the new authorities’ efforts to build better public services open to all. Given the history and political tensions, such policy is understandable, but it nevertheless left Orthodox churches on the outside of any educational or social service they might have rendered otherwise, apart from a few activities in the area of social charity. The only exception to this policy was in the founding of seminaries and theological schools to prepare clerics for their role in the community.


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Western Europe and the Americas at the Present

The twentieth century brought other changes to Orthodoxy as it influenced the West, largely a result of political transitions. Orthodox people immigrated to new regions or continents, mainly to Western Europe, the Americas, and Australia. In most cases, these people were often limited by poverty in their new environment and had to struggle for a living daily. Often they subsisted as cultural outsiders within the new countries for a number of years, losing all attachments to their mother countries, other than sentimental ties to their culture of origin. Once fully integrated into Western culture, these individuals usually adopted the existing structures of their host community and political systems. The only exception was, at times, language schools for children and theological schools (mainly in France and the United States) that helped maintain specific forms of Orthodox affiliation. Overall, the Orthodox adopted the public system as their own and in general did not create parallel confessional institutions, including institutions for higher education.19




This short overview demonstrates that Orthodox churches, wherever they were established, and under various circumstances, made little or no effort to replace public systems with independent institutions. In the early centuries, this allegiance to the status quo developed from a historical confidence in the “orthodox” rulers (from Byzantium to the empires and kingdoms of Eastern and Central Europe). In general, Orthodox churches retained such a policy, continuing to defend it in democratic and republican systems seeking equality among citizens and working for a better understanding of welfare within the nation—that is, any nation. Such a tendency to accept the standard system without concern for religious influence seems a tendency very specific to Orthodoxy, at least in my experience. In short, Orthodox experience in providing social services in general and higher education in particular is insubstantial at worst, uneven at best. However, is deferral to the state in the social sphere a fruitful or faithful position for the church to take in a new age wherein the church

An Orthodox University in Lebanon


is free to act and now the sole custodian of Orthodox ethics? With such rapid development at all levels of society occurring around the world today, might the Orthodox Church need, and indeed even benefit from, revisiting this policy of limited engagement? At what level and under what conditions? And given our “tradition” of limited engagement, what theological basis might be found for a change in our stance on the higher education question?


It seems to me that several theological strands within Orthodoxy support the development of a greater Orthodox social and educational engagement and impact, regardless of our history. All of these theological strands influenced, in one way or another, the foundation and development of UOB. Incarnation

As a tradition rooted in the incarnation of the Word, Orthodoxy does not search for theoretical responses but seeks concrete pedagogical answers people can apply in their lives. Clearly, with the explosion of knowledge, technology, and social change of the last century, the questions people need answers for have only multiplied. In such a milieu, concrete pedagogical answers require an understanding of and facility with modern developments that is best achieved in partnership with higher education. Can we recognize in these realities the call to incarnate the Word for the world we currently live in? The Church as Conscience

The Orthodox Church’s most significant impact is through what we call the “church as conscience.” The church is to be a witness for change and development in ideas about humankind, and for such actions as support general welfare and communication between human beings. Modern or


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postmodern ideas may challenge the future of the church. However, to make an impact means to be ready to give the church of the future the means to bear its witness effectively. Orthodoxy’s Soteriological and Trinitarian Witness

Influencing the future is part of Orthodox witness to the fact of salvation (redemption). Orthodox believers cannot consider redemption as just a historical event, but must consider it as a reality that affects faith and thus life itself today and now. Not to witness means not to believe. This is the profound meaning of faith within the Orthodox tradition, and one that remains a challenge and dilemma for believers around the world. Both believers as individuals and the Orthodox as a community are to witness to our faith. Believers must link life to faith and be able to claim it by their actions and discourse; the community must witness through its deeds, and must be at the same time the conscience of its members in their praxis. Some Orthodox circles tragically reduce church witness by limiting it to maintaining a liturgical life within the confines of Orthodox services. But the life of the church, though certainly and deeply liturgical, is also very much outward-looking in its biblical and dogmatic dimensions. Accordingly, the life of the church must translate today, within the current conditions of the world and of humankind, the evangelical message and the content of biblical and dogmatic Orthodoxy. Orthodox theology is emphatic in its defense of the Trinitarian unity, not at the level of ideas—that would make our approach philosophical and even ideological—but at the level of the church’s vision of the incarnation’s immanence in its life and the life of its members. Hence the individual is called to be “internally integral ” in a total harmony with all his or her potential in the image of the Trinity; the church is also called to live this “integrity” in the image of Christ, the incarnated Son, being his body and the holder of his message. The church has to live this integrity so that its visible life reveals the power that is inherent in it (the power of the Holy Spirit) and through which it recognizes the Father as being the source of whatever is good in the world.

An Orthodox University in Lebanon


For the Life of the World: Responsibility, Challenge, and Annunciation

Finally, three other factors must influence how such witness takes place. First, in Orthodox theology the church is responsible for the world, and this responsibility is a divine duty; the church as “community of believers” cannot but manifest this responsibility in its life and that of its members. Second, the Orthodox Church owns in its theology a valuable counterpart to and challenger of modernity. The fruits of the Spirit— love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23)—may not be forbidden by any law, but neither does it have any obvious basis in the modern secular state. Rediscovering this specificity inherent in the church’s nature is an urgent duty, because the world needs these messages and tools of hope. Third, the church as “annunciator” must deliver this message of life. Such a witness is an opportunity for the Orthodox Church to be proactively involved in the problematic issues of modernity and to participate in possible solutions that will preserve the good of humanity according to the requirements of salvation. THE ANTIOCHIAN (BALAMAND) CASE

All these historical and theological reflections influenced the founders’ discussion and decisions in Lebanon in the 1980s as we worked together to establish the University of Balamand. In particular, they shaped our three-part objectives, outlined above, and helped us to realize the university’s mission. How we did so will be illustrated by a few exemplary aspects of resulting university practices, namely, decisions about priorities as they relate to curricular development, new programs, and development of our campus. Curriculum Design

We gave special attention to curriculum design in order to give UOB a specificity that we thought beneficial to its graduates and reflective of our Orthodox identity. This focus took three parts.


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First, we emphasized that university requirements are an integral part of the curriculum. These requirements cover not only language and computer skills but also what we call the Civilization Sequence program, compulsory to all our students, and covering ancient and modern heritage along with an emphasis on Christianity and Islam. Lebanese youth must learn about each other to overcome the barriers imposed on them by the war and by ideological partisanship; imposing this requirement via curriculum bore witness to the importance of awareness of our neighbour and reconciliation. Second, we made it a curricular policy to relate some courses to the service of the community. Students are offered free credits in arts, education, computer, engineering, and language courses when, under the supervision of their instructor, they link the content of the course to a block of forty-five service hours in the community. These service hours are course related and totally integrated into course content and in the evaluation procedure. Third, one of our main concerns was to give our graduates some flexibility in their preparation for future career options. We gave room in the different curricula to a “minor,” common in American education but less common in European models. The student may graduate in a specific major with the mention of a minor in a different area. Establishing a new trend in the learning process accompanied these efforts, because a change in the curriculum is not a goal in itself. We have tried to move towards a student-centered approach and towards a better use of new technologies in teaching, and to encourage students’ awareness of their own role in the learning process. The basis of such an approach is not only a scientific and pedagogical one, but is also rooted (i) in the way we look at our students as human beings from an Orthodox point of view, and (ii) in thinking of the students as future actors in a society that needs to be developed on more than one level. New Programs

At the same time, the university launched two programs devoted to research in areas that will help the church in her mission. The first was a Centre for Christian-Muslim Studies and the second, an Institute of History, Archaeology, and Near Eastern Studies. Both centers have published

An Orthodox University in Lebanon


a number of books, launched international seminars, and housed a series of courses. In both cases these centers became references for researchers and gave the church better chances to witness to its role in multicultural Lebanese society. Creating a Campus Life and Student-Centered Facilities

Only two universities in Lebanon have the tradition of a campus life, both located in Beirut.20 By implementing such a tradition in North Lebanon, we wanted to give students from different religious backgrounds the occasion to meet in a healthy atmosphere that would foster and encourage conviviality—one of the main objectives of the Orthodox Church’s witness in Lebanon. To realize this goal, we undertook to (i) design a pleasant campus, fostering a friendly atmosphere, landscaping, and students’ awareness of belonging; (ii) establish an Office for Students Affairs, in charge of the many aspects related to nonacademic issues in students’ life; and (iii) create several student clubs, involving various activities, to link the students with noncurricular aspects of campus life. In terms of logistics, these plans required UOB to design its campus with an eye to hosting such activities. Building on the 450,000 square meters that the Orthodox Church had offered, the university erected buildings named after their respective donors. The university is particularly honored that these donors, from different religious backgrounds, continue, through their supported buildings, to be a testimony of the university’s openness. DIFFICULTIES THAT REMAIN

Despite its successes, the University of Balamand has faced many difficulties and failures. The proverb “Where there is a will there is a way” has been true for us throughout the years, but this does not mean that the path is easy. A number of difficulties and challenges remain. Implementing New Trends

The primary difficulty we face today is in the implementation of our choices in teaching and learning. The educational environment in


Georges N. Nahas

Lebanon is more inclined to classical models. The majority of instructors are trained in traditional schools. The new techniques we opted to use are neither familiar nor popular. We have had to work hard, and continue this effort on many fronts, to create and sustain this model for education in our university setting, and to help in establishing new teaching and learning approaches. Making a Rapid Social Impact

In our community engagement objective, we find that UOB is very well received, but its social impact has not reached as deep into the community as we had hoped. Projects like the Continuing Education Program, which we implemented several years ago, are still weak. Some fundamental changes must still take place. All of our artistic activities, noncurricular programs, and special cultural events are open to the public. We hope that these community opportunities will bear fruit in the near future. Creating a Continuous Campus Life

A third major difficulty, related to the second, is the lack of a vibrant campus life that includes all of our 3,800 students. We continue to move slowly towards creating a campus life that goes beyond hours in the classroom. At present only the students who live on campus and those who are part of the university sports teams tend to use the excellent facilities that are available. Lessons to Learn

The Balamand case is important because of its particular situation in the Middle East and because of the presence, all over the world, of people of Lebanese origin. Undeniably, Lebanon has both a local and a universal dimension. Within Lebanon and the Antiochian area, Orthodoxy has a special vocation to link people in goodwill regardless of their religious background. The objective of the Orthodox Church of Antioch in launching this university was to show that the witness in the Word with

An Orthodox University in Lebanon


new means is possible and that it is not an individual endeavor but a communal one. Nonetheless, after twenty-eight years, we must admit that we have a number of lessons to learn. Orthodoxy must develop new guidelines for its presence in the World, recognizing what theological foundations for engagement already exist. We need to overcome the historical pressures we have experienced and challenge ourselves in the twenty-first century to adopt a new paradigm for our relationship with political authorities and community engagement. Orthodox believers can gain only by envisioning different types of forums in which they can plan their witness in the world; that Orthodox universities should be one of those forums is, in the experience of UOB, without question. We sincerely hope that our own experiment will encourage many more; Orthodox scholars active in higher education can benefit greatly from meeting and planning relevant endeavors in this crucial arena of human development. The establishment of Orthodox universities is a truly universal endeavor, most suited to a universal church. While Balamand has been the project of a single jurisdiction, we are convinced that the autocephaly principle that is the basis of our ecclesiological structure need not hinder communication between the range of different churches and the possibility of their exchanging experiences. Local traditions need not be an obstacle for adopting new trends that will increase the positive visibility of the church. Modern society needs much that Orthodoxy can offer; our churches are called upon to make our heritage more existential by adopting a new discourse, by giving a new content to our social work, and by promoting new ways of work, mainly through education. NOTES 1. The eighteen religious communities recognized by the Lebanese Constitution are Alawite, Armenian Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic, Copts, Druze, Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Ismai’ili, Jewish, Latin Catholic, Maronite, Protestant, Sunni Muslim, Shi’a Muslim, Syriac Catholic, Syriac Orthodox. 2. Confessionalism is “a system of government that proportionally allocates political power among a country’s communities—whether religious or


Georges N. Nahas

ethnic—according to their percentage of the population.” Imad Harb, “Lebanon’s Confessionalism: Problems and Prospects,” United States Institute of Peace, March 30, 2006, http://www.usip.org/publications/lebanons-confessionalism -problems-and-prospects. In Lebanon, confessionalism not only governs the proportions in the parliamentary government, but also imposes requirements on particular office holders. For example, the president must be a Maronite Christian, the speaker of the Parliament a Shi’a Muslim, and the prime minister, a Sunni Muslim. Given the country’s small size and physical location in the midst of much religious and geopolitical diversity, surrounding nations and religious communities have often exploited Lebanon’s confessionalism as a means to exert pressure and assert undue influence in the very heart of Lebanon’s government. 3. For a succinct history of these decades and the complexity underlying them, see Kamal S. Salibi’s A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon (Berkeley: University of California Press, repr., 1990). While this well-regarded classic history is now somewhat dated, it is extremely valuable, not only for its native perspective on and careful study of Lebanese history, but also for its capturing of the ethos and hopes of Lebanese academia at precisely the time of UOB’s founding. For an overview of Lebanon’s most recent years, see William Harris’s Lebanon: A History, 600–2011 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). 4. The Orthodox community in Lebanon is recognized by its neighbors as moderate and open; Orthodox believers have worked hard to bridge the gaps between the many confessions. Examples of this legacy include the Orthodox community’s refusal to form an armed militia during the civil war and the Holy Synod’s statement in 1975 specifying the Orthodox position as being a moderate appeal for peace. Furthermore, Orthodox political figures such as Ghassan Tueni and Fouad Boutros have played an important role in maintaining dialogue between all. 5. All the details related to the preparatory, launching, and first-ten-years periods are described at length in University of Balamand: Université de Balamand (Beirut: Lézard & Company, 1998), published for the tenth anniversary of the foundation. 6. Higher Education in Lebanon (Beirut: Lebanese Association for Education Sciences, 1996). 7. Historically, and till 1996, higher education institutions in Lebanon were all nonprofit institutions. When the government authorized the foundation of for-profit institutions, business priorities prevailed in many new institutions at the expense of attention to quality education in terms of facilities, faculty, programs, etc. Decree #1974 sought to rectify this situation and published a set of criteria to be used as a compulsory checklist before issuing any new license to an institution of higher education.

An Orthodox University in Lebanon


8. Since its revival in the seventeenth century, when Orthodox monks returned to Balamand, Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery has played an important role for the Orthodox community. It became a center for publication, one of the first in the region in the seventeenth century, and a focal point for its manuscripts collection and its clerical school. Dr. Souad Abou el-Rousse Slim’s Balamand: Histoire et patrimoine (Beirut: Dar An-Nahar, 1995) is a good resource on the monastery’s history. Ongoing archaeological research will further expand our knowledge of that history in the near future. As a patriarchal entity, Balamand has a special meaning for the Orthodox in general; as a civic entity, Balamand is located within a Muslim environment, and has always maintained excellent relations with that environment. Building a university in this multiconfessional environment in the midst of the war was important not only for the Orthodox but for the community at large. From the very beginning, the university attracted students and faculty from different Lebanese regions and from different Muslim and Christian confessions. 9. For more information on the Academy of Gundishapur, see R. N. Frye, ed., The Cambridge History of Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975, republished online 2008), 4:396. On the school of Nisibis, see Adam H. Becker, Fear of God and the Beginning of Wisdom: The School of Nisibis and the Development of Scholastic Culture in Late Antique Mesopotamia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006). On the House of Wisdom, see Jim al-Khalili’s The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance (New York: Penguin Press, 2011). On other higher education institutions in the Middle East, see the work of Dr. Adnan El-Amine and Dr. Mounir Bashshur. 10. Osama Abi-Mershed, ed., Trajectories of Education in the Arab World: Legacies and Challenges, Routledge Advances in Middle East and Islamic Studies (London: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and Routledge, 2009), is a good resource on both the history and present state of education in the Middle East. 11. This was the case for both Averroes and Galileo. 12. A succinct history of universities that will illuminate this and the following section can be found in Harold Perkins’s “History of Universities,” in James J. F. Forest and Philip G. Altbach, eds., International Handbook of Higher Education (Dordrecht: Springer, 2006), 18:159–205. 13. For more on this subject, see Bernhard Bischoff ’s Manuscripts and Libraries in the Age of Charlemagne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 14. Indeed, in his article “The Genesis of Monastic Libraries,” Libraries & the Cultural Record 45, no. 3 (2010): 320–32, Herman A. Peterson argues


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convincingly that the compilation of libraries was understood as part of spiritual discipline. 15. The Ottoman Empire (which included North Africa, Middle East, Turkey, and some of the European countries) did not promote the basic education of its citizens, and hence, for centuries, no formal system of public education existed. The Ottoman Empire established centers to train its military officials and gave the religious communities the possibility of instructing the future clergy. Only after the “tanzimat” (capitulations), imposed on the Ottoman Empire by European countries, were Christian communities authorized to establish schools and universities. 16. The role of “guide” to the civil authorities was not always easy to play, and many of our martyrs paid with their lives the price of such a position. 17. However, in Russia, we are seeing increasing interrelationship between the state and the church in some areas. 18. The Saint George Hospital University Medical Center in Beirut is the only Orthodox institution, which has functioned continuously for more than 135 years. 19. Exceptions to this would be Hellenic College in Brighton, Massachusetts, which was begun at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology as a feeder school for that seminary, and is still present today. Additionally, up until the latter half of the twentieth century, there were bachelor’s-equivalent programs at St. Tikhon’s and St. Vladimir’s seminaries in the United States. However, these also served as feeder programs for the seminaries themselves and perhaps should not be treated separately from them, even though some who passed through them did not go on to ordination. 20. These institutions are the American University of Beirut (AUB), and Lebanese American University (LAU).




c AndAce h etzner

Over a decade ago, I had a conversation with a distinguished social scientist in which I was lamenting the lack of Eastern Orthodox liberal arts colleges in the United States. My interlocutor argued that a plenitude of religious institutions of higher education already existed and that the addition of Orthodox institutions was simply unnecessary. “What raison d’être,” he asked, “could be offered? What could possibly be distinctive about an Orthodox curriculum? After all,” he chuckled, “there is no such thing as Orthodox physics.” Over the years, I have decided that, indeed, there may be an Orthodox physics (more about this later). However, after thinking about this conversation, I have concluded that the real issue is not whether an Orthodox institution can offer courses radically different or distinctive from those offered by other Christian colleges. In fact, an Orthodox college would necessarily need to be offering courses similar to those available in most of higher education in order to attract students and to meet government and accreditation standards. Rather the real issue is whether Orthodoxy possesses distinctive features that would provide for a distinctive Orthodox learning environment. 223


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All too often Orthodox parents either complacently or, more usually, enthusiastically have sent their children to Catholic, or occasionally Protestant, colleges for a Christian education and never imagined the possibilities that an Orthodox college might offer. Likewise, the Orthodox jurisdictions have failed to conceive of how an Orthodox institution might benefit not only students but also the church. In fact, the rich Orthodox tradition embodies a set of beliefs and practices, histories and cultures that could provide a unique learning and faith environment of great value to students and church alike. My interest in Orthodox higher education has its roots in my professional history and experience. I have been an administrator and professor in Jesuit institutions of higher education for fifteen years. I have experienced firsthand the central role that the church can play in providing an environment that nurtures student intellectual and spiritual development. I have also witnessed the contribution that religious institutions of higher education can make to fostering discourse and scholarship concerning the faith and to helping create future generations of faithful members of the church. In addition, in 2005–6, under the auspices of a grant provided by the Lilly Endowment Inc., I had the good fortune to serve as a facilitator for the core revision at Hellenic College, a Greek Orthodox institution of higher education. At Hellenic, I worked with a thoughtful, mission-driven faculty who awakened me to the possibilities and potentialities of Orthodox higher education.


Before I begin to outline those elements of Orthodoxy capable of providing a distinctive and distinguished education, a few words are in order concerning the difficulty of establishing and developing Orthodox institutions of higher learning. The United States has had but three baccalaureate Orthodox colleges:1 Rose Hill College in Aiken, South Carolina, which operated for under two years (fall 1996 to spring 1998); St. Kath-

An Orthodox College


erine College in Encintas, California, which opened in fall 2011; and Hellenic College in Brookline, Massachusetts, which was founded in 1968. Hence, in the history of American higher education, only two Orthodox colleges presently exist. American Orthodoxy has, by and large, not only ignored institutions of higher education but also has established few parochial schools. The Orthodox Christian School Association has reported that it could identify only fifty-five Orthodox primary or secondary schools in the United States.2 Such schools could act as feeders to an Orthodox college in the way that Catholic and Lutheran parochial schools serve as the first stage of an educational system. Even when one looks historically or cross-culturally, Orthodox institutions of higher education, with the exception of seminaries, have played little role in the Orthodox experience. Though Byzantium launched some of the world’s great centers of intellectual activity in places like fifthcentury Constantinople and late Byzantine Mistras, the learning was predominantly secular—the teaching of texts involving the old gods, science and mathematics, and philosophy—and was not sponsored by the church.3 The Orthodox have nothing in their history that compares to the denominational ties of Catholics to the University of Bologna, Calvinists to the University of Geneva, and Congregationalists to Yale University. Furthermore, it is not simply that the Orthodox generally do not have a good understanding of colleges and universities with denominational ties, especially as such institutions exist in the United States, but many Orthodox hierarchs do not have any direct experience of this kind of education. Many reside in countries where church-affiliated or -sponsored private colleges and universities are little known, and they themselves hold degrees from educational institutions with very different historical roots. In addition, historical differences and disputes among the various jurisdictions have been a major obstacle to any unified vision of an American Orthodox college or university. Hence, the top ranks of the various jurisdictions have offered almost no leadership or direction concerning the creation of Eastern Orthodox colleges. Successfully arguing for an Orthodox education, let alone building American Orthodox institutions, is at best an uphill task. However, good reasons exist for trying, both because of the rich educational environment


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Orthodoxy can offer students and because of what Orthodox colleges could do for the twenty-first-century Orthodox Church. What follows is a layman’s partial list of those distinctive features of Orthodox theology and practice that can produce a distinctive educational experience. The intention is not to provide an extensive list of courses for an orthodox curriculum but to suggest the kind of academic culture and community that Orthodoxy could shape and to make a few suggestions as to how courses might fit into it. These suggestions are offered in the hope that they will encourage the Orthodox community to become more interested and supportive of Orthodox higher education and to further dialogue within and between the two existing Orthodox colleges, Hellenic and St. Katherine.


Because the chief end of academic institutions is the pursuit of truth and understanding, academic inquiry requires that both students and faculty proceed with open minds to explore the frontiers of knowledge. This frequently means, however, that the academy conducts inquiry in the gray interstices between the empirical and the metaphysical, the visible and the hypothetical, the concrete and the metaphorical, the logical and the intuitive, and the factual and the spurious. The scholarly world tackles the riddle of the unknown. Many undergraduates, accustomed to multiple-choice examinations, are flummoxed when told that there may not always be a single correct answer to every question. Professors, thus, spend much of their time trying to explain the difficulties involved in finding answers: philosophers explain the fine points of logic; political scientists emphasize the need for more reliable data; and neuroscientists tease apart differences between nature and nurture. Nonetheless, faculty who teach students about these problems are engaged in a different enterprise altogether from the current trend of many in the professoriate who teach that no answers exist whatsoever. The latter increasingly see themselves as engaged in an epistemological task of exploring ways of knowing and/or an ontological task

An Orthodox College


of exploring the standing of various kinds of knowledge that we think we have. This kind of intellectual approach maintains that what people have traditionally misconceived as knowledge and truth were really the epiphenomena of social structure—reflections of the gender, race, or social class of the inquirer, the author, or the student. Certainly, this perspective points out much—if one dares to use the word—“truth.” For example, deconstructing texts has led to new understanding and levels of meaning. But the academy has simply gone overboard, to the bewilderment of students and not a few faculty members. In tandem with the transmittal of this angst about the possibility of knowing anything, the academy has increasingly eschewed substance in favor of process and, thus, pursued teaching students how to think. Evidence of this can also be seen in the steady erosion of core curricula and requirements, particularly since the sixties. Certainly one of the most important aims of higher education is to teach students to think—to analyze, synthesize, and critique. But students must have something to think about; no process exists without substance. However, many professors have abdicated responsibility for deciding what students should think about, that is, what should constitute the intellectual content of the curriculum. The problem for the modern curriculum is that intellectual relativism is increasingly the glue that holds the academy together. And it is just this that Orthodoxy is in a very good position to combat. Trying to argue for an Orthodox higher education is in no way meant to denigrate the extraordinary contributions of other denominations in building excellent colleges and universities. Rather this is a recommendation that Orthodoxy emulate these other denominations by creating institutions reflective of its own tradition with its distinctive, nuanced understanding of such things as love, truth, freedom, economy, grace, and service.


If many students are at sea in the relativist universe of academia, they also arrive at college as members of an increasingly radical individualist society. Students are cynical about all of its institutions and any institutional


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claims to authority. Every individual is entitled to his or her opinion, and no one has superior expertise or judgment. Students arrive on college campuses frequently alienated from most of the key institutions of their society from government to business to the church.4 They often view the church as dogmatic and irrelevant, especially with respect to human sexuality (more of this later). Hence, they have no place to turn for guidance other than their gut instincts or the latest guru or fad, from yoga to personal trainers to time management coaches. Yet students yearn for direction. Orthodoxy can offer such direction by providing an education that helps to resolve relativist-absolutist tensions.


Orthodoxy is very clear about knowing some things with certainty and not knowing others. For example, as a matter of doctrine the church believes in the Trinity, with God as Creator; Christ as the Logos or Word and Truth; and the Holy Spirit as an animating presence in humanity. Central to the church’s theology is the notion that its members should strive for theosis, or to be like God. Nonetheless, the church does not believe that human beings can know the essence of God, but rather only his energies. Hence, the church, though approaching God cataphatically, often does so apophatically. With regard to the latter, the church often maintains that at best it is possible only to say what God is not and that often it is impossible to say anything at all. God is mystery; God is ineffable and is knowable only through direct experience.5 The Orthodox emphasis on apophatism and mystery marks a significant departure from much Christian absolutism.


Furthermore, Orthodox understanding of creation is that God imbued human persons with rationality and the capacity to pursue truth and to understand nature. In addition, these rational persons are free to choose right from wrong, since on the Orthodox view, they are born not in sin

An Orthodox College


but into a sinful world with many temptations to which one can say “yes” or “no.” The conjunction and centrality of rationality and freedom of choice make a powerful foundation for intellectual inquiry.6


Though hierarchical, the Orthodox Church, at its best, represents a balance between equality and authority within its tradition. The patriarch is first among equals; laity and priests are synergistic components in the fulfillment of the liturgy; and sainthood is from the bottom to the top, laity to hierarchs. The Orthodox Church is also conciliar and synodal, that is, governed by representative councils and synods. Nonetheless, the church is not without hierarchy or belief in its value. Eastern Orthodoxy pays deference to canon law, patriarch, bishops, and priests. Indeed the clergy serves to preserve and interpret holy tradition—embracing as it does the entire experience of the church whether grounded in scripture, canons, councils, synods, or simply custom.


The church itself also engages in a discretionary exercise of authority under the rubric of economia or stewardship—a notion derived from household management rather than Roman law.7 Orthodoxy strives to observe the spirit of Christianity and not simply the law by being forgiving in two senses of the word: (1) in the sense of the mercy and compassion flowing from God’s love; and (2) in the sense of flexibility with respect to particular cases. The church is cautious about being too narrow and legalistic in its judgments lest it be out of keeping with God’s plan—a plan belonging to God and, therefore, unknowable.8 In its loving wisdom, the church makes discriminating judgments and allowances for deviation. The church contends that what is good for one household may not be good for another and allows for difference and forgiveness for individual persons and for local practices.


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Finally, proceeding from the unified diversity of the Trinity, Orthodoxy emphasizes the relational nature of love and maintains that Christian practice revolves around inclusion of the other. Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon points out that a eucharistic community cannot exist without the other.9 The Eucharist is not only relational but also salvational. People are saved by the grace of God not as individuals but as persons in community who are created in the likeness of the Trinity and engaged in acts of love with regard to humanity and the entire cosmos.10 As Kallistos Ware explains: “We are not saved from but with the world. Looking to the age to come, therefore, we await not merely the resurrection of the body but also the transfiguration of the entire cosmos. . . . In the grand vision of St. Maximos the Confessor, the human person is priest of the creation, bringing all divided things into unity.”11 Hence, the church does not require its members to do good works in order to secure salvation. Rather good works emanate from love of God, our fellow man, and all creation.


Orthodoxy’s chief contribution to a college and its curriculum is to shape a special “culture,” a term understood here, in the words of the concept’s originator, as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”12 This is a broad conceptual and practical project that does not necessarily specify particular fields or courses (though I will suggest a few directions) because these depend on the charisms of faculty members. Hence, what follows is a partial architectural rendering of what such a culture might look like. Such a college culture would have as its foundational objectives the following: (1) comprehending the complexity of God-given creation and its implications for knowledge and the pursuit of truth and, hence, believing that human beings can know many things but not everything; (2) understanding that God has endowed human beings

An Orthodox College


with rationality and freedom of choice; (3) appreciating genuine authority and the willingness to learn from those possessed of greater knowledge and insight; (4) learning to experience themselves not as individuals but as persons united in a eucharistic community and a salvific journey bound by love of God, love of one another, and love of all creation; (5) valuing tradition and institutions as repositories of collective wisdom through time.


Key to any genuine efforts to bridge the relativist-absolutist rift would be the reinsertion of the normative into all aspects of the curriculum. This does not mean telling people what to think. It does, however, require giving people the necessary tools, involving both substantive knowledge and rational process, to make informed choices. At the heart of human existence is choice, the routine relating of facts to values to arrive at sound judgments, communicable and understandable, to others. Such judgments vary across vastly different areas of life from the ethical to the technical to the aesthetic to the prudential. Helping students comprehend the difference between making choices on the basis of knowledge and logic and making choices on the basis of uninformed opinion or caprice is critical to the entire effort to create an Orthodox culture. This is about teaching students to sort out truth from untruth and both from the grayness in between. What follows are simply a few suggestions of how this might work in an Orthodox liberal arts college. Humanities and Fine Arts

The humanities would play a crucial role because Orthodox theology and normative ethical philosophy are the linchpins that hold the enterprise together. This enterprise involves Christianity and ethics speaking truth to each and every part of the curriculum and to the lived academic community—it is interdisciplinarity with a normative purpose. This does not mean a philosopher or theologian for every classroom. However, the college would need to facilitate dialogue among philosophers,


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theologians, and faculty from other disciplines, for example, in the classroom through team teaching, or outside the classroom through symposia. Aside from the centrality of these two humanistic fields to the mission of the college, the activities of the humanities and, concomitantly, the fine arts would find fertile ground in a faith that has placed aesthetics at the heart of its worship. As Patriarch Bartholomew has remarked of Hagia Sophia: “Who would deny that this same church of the Holy Wisdom represents theology spelled out in the grammar of magnificent domes, mosaics or frescoes, pillars, and light? Every word articulated in theology, like every stroke of an iconographer’s paintbrush, every musical note chanted in psalmody, and every stone carved in a chapel or a cathedral, is an attempt to re-create the divine beauty that inspires every living being as well as everything that breathes to praise the lord.”13 The intrinsic centrality of beauty to Orthodoxy provides fertile ground for the study of such things as literature, poetry, myth, art, and music. Although Orthodoxy believes in scripture as the word of God, the faith does not subscribe to an exclusively literal or fundamentalist understanding. Orthodoxy understands scripture as truth in ways that do not deny the importance of nuances of meaning in translation, the complexities of meaning in metaphor and parable, and the significance of culture and history. Orthodoxy accepts that God has given us reason and that, therefore, critical analysis and scholarship are appropriate, but the church places the intellectual pursuit of truth and beauty in the context of the historical continuity and unity of holy tradition.14 In this way, an Orthodox college can encourage analysis and theory without such intellectual activity devolving into complete relativism and nihilism. In addition, the history of the development of the church from the time of Christ forward has involved unifying hugely disparate cultures with different languages and customs. The earliest centuries of the church involved Hebrew and Aramaic as well as Syriac and Greek languages and associated cultures and customs. As Archbishop Anastasios has explained, as the church grew, it committed itself to spreading the word in the vernacular and welcoming diverse cultural practices—of course, always within the context of their participation in the catholicity and unity of the faith.15 Such diversity should provide a rich environment for the development and endowment of area studies, whether, Russian, Balkan, or

An Orthodox College


Hellenic. In addition, classical and Byzantine studies embracing everything from philosophy to history to language would be a natural fit. Moreover, the churches of the various jurisdictions might find these kinds of intellectual pursuits helpful in distinguishing cultural from Christian elements in Orthodox practice. Social Sciences

In the social sciences, students would not approach public policy simply empirically, with all research and knowledge focused on observations of behavior. Social science courses would need to do more than to explain or describe social problems. A sociology course, for example, could help students make judgments about what ought to be done to tackle injustices resulting from such things as racial discrimination, inequality, or poverty. This is true not just of social problems such as poverty but also for areas such as international relations, which should speak not simply of strategy but of morality. For example, to what extent is American drone use or internet surveillance efficacious or moral? In a discipline like psychology and its newest area of endeavor, neuroscience, faculty would need to pose questions about how to conceive of human activity—as behavior or conduct. They would need to assist students in understanding the complex interplay of such things as the neurology of the brain, environmental factors, and free will in evaluating human action. Furthermore, the church could also benefit from increasing its understanding of things like depression and its role in suicide, something proscribed by church teaching. In addition, given the presence of the Orthodox faith in various world trouble spots, Orthodox higher education could provide a forum for knowledgeable debate. For instance, a college could offer the church an opportunity to examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a setting in which the church could ponder the wisdom of or necessity for taking policy positions or making policy statements. Moreover, the Orthodox heritage has involved much of the community, in many places and for many years, living, side by side, with Muslims—whether in Iraq, Lebanon, Russia, or Cyprus—often in harmony, at other times in conflict. What has traditionally been missing is a


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genuine dialogue to explore the beliefs of both faiths. Because the two faiths have shared a good deal of common history as well as some common theology, such as prophets and saints, as well as some common aesthetics, an Orthodox college is ideally positioned to reach out to improve understanding and tolerance.16 This is especially important in the context of continuing turbulence in the Middle East and elsewhere involving radical Islam and its destructive impact on Christians as well as more moderate Muslims. Another arena in which Orthodoxy could contribute significantly would be in economics and business. In a society and world in which almost all values are being made commensurate with money, an Orthodox college would have an opportunity and obligation to introduce competing values into the study of economic exchange and business transaction. For instance, what is the appropriate trade-off between efficiency and equity, profit and fairness? Is capitalism correct that the public good can best be realized as the intersection of supply and demand curves, or does a higher standard exist? Should companies secretly invest in life insurance policies on their employees as part of a profit-making strategy, and what are the problems embedded in such activity?17 Science

Science presents an interesting challenge, especially in an era when many scientists believe the origins of creation have nothing to do with God. Here Orthodoxy has some possible advantages. Having, by and large, missed the Enlightenment and, therefore, the opportunity to oppose it, the Orthodox Church has less historical overcoming to do than many other denominations. In addition, because the Orthodox have always believed that God-given reason allows for, actually demands, an understanding of the natural and material world, the church is comfortable with the discovery of such things as causal laws and evolution of the natural and physical world. Hence, nothing in Orthodoxy prevents healthy engagement with fields such as physics and biology. Healthy engagement is two directional. The church could benefit from becoming better informed about the physical and natural worlds, and the sciences could profit as well. Because Orthodoxy possesses a

An Orthodox College


complex understanding of the concept of time, the church can, perhaps, more readily speak to and comprehend physics than some other denominations. Orthodoxy embraces two notions of time: one is linear and calendrical—hence the hours, days, and weeks of the church and feast and fasting days. And one is circular—involving remembrance and commemoration in real time and an eschatology embracing both future and present experience.18 Bishop Ware has argued that a spiral best captures Orthodox understanding of time as it “reflects the basic patterns in the physical universe, from the movement of the galaxies to the folds in the human cerebral cortex. . . . Above all, the spiral has the advantage of being—at any rate in some instances—three dimensional, thus expressing our post-Einstinian sense of living in a space-time continuum.”19 However, Orthodoxy must also be able to communicate beyond the parameters set by science and ask questions outside the present theories and hypotheses of disciplines. The church must also seek to challenge science in the context of larger questions concerning the origins of the cosmos and the material world. For example, even if a full-blown theory of evolution in biology or big-bang theory of creation in physics proves to be true, what is the ultimate source of creation girding these penultimate accounts? One key point of connection between Orthodoxy and much of the modern scientific community, as well as the social scientific policy community, is concern for the natural environment. In keeping with Orthodox salvific theology, that is, that salvation is relational, involving a human person’s loving connectedness to God, community, and all creation, the previous and current patriarchs have both been world spokesmen for the environmental movement.20 An Orthodox college should be a global center for environmental studies and policy. Finally, an Orthodox institution would need to address itself squarely to science and technological change. Teens enter college in an era when biology can map the human genome and can increasingly tell them about their health and earthly destiny. Couples experiencing infertility can have in vitro fertilization or can make use of the sperm of a donor or the womb of another. Parents now know the gender of their child as well as its chromosomal abnormalities long before birth. Many people at life’s end are able to continue living after organ transplants. Laboratories can now


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grow cells, clone animal life, produce meat, and create organs. This list grows endlessly and exponentially and has become a commonplace in the lives of students and the society in which they live. In addition, students now take for granted the entire digital revolution with its instantaneous provision of information, entertainment, and connectedness. Their lives are inextricably intertwined with technology, whether mobile phones, GPS devices, electronic pads, computers, portable media players, or Google Glass. All knowledge is available at the touch of a screen, the sound of a voice, or the blink of an eye. With the instantaneous capacity to call up everything one wants to know has come the loss of such things as concentration, contemplation, and privacy (as well as confusion over the ownership of ideas and even the meaning of plagiarism). In this environment, to speak of souls is almost quaint, but an Orthodox college must do so. It must ask about the purposes of technology and the meaning of life. This is not about Orthodoxy attempting to roll back the clock—to give up mobile phones, emails, or the internet. Rather, an Orthodox college must explore the possible costs to our humanity in this rapid expansion of technology (as well as must offer opportunities to combat the effects through contemplative activities and loving community). Moreover, an Orthodox college must question the ethos that underpins much of technological development, an ethos that assumes that human beings can ultimately dominate and control nature. Finally, an Orthodox college, relying on its ancient history of hesychasm, must provide space for silence and guidance for the productive intellectual and spiritual use of stillness. Here, as with challenges to business and economics, an Orthodox faculty must take issue with the heavily individualist notions girding the ethos. Little difference exists between being a capitalist master of the universe and being a technological one. Both believe that individual human effort and know-how will triumph. The job of an Orthodox college is to raise questions about whether homo sapiens is meant to bend nature to fit his or her every need or whether human beings are meant to act as stewards and to fulfill the broad needs of the cosmos.21 Finally, an Orthodox college is a place for the church to examine its historico-cultural inheritance and its fit with modern scientific knowledge. Such an institution offers the church a locus for reflection and

An Orthodox College


dialogue with others—both inside and outside the Orthodox Church. The church has been giving its members little or no opportunity for discussion, let alone giving them guidance, concerning these issues. Diversity and Community

An Orthodox College could also provide a safe space for both church and students to explore issues involving gender and sexuality. Discussion of the role of women in the church is of increasing prominence—if for no other reason than that many other Christian denominations have extended far wider roles to women than the Orthodox Church. Most students come to college with twenty-first-century American notions of gender equality and nondiscrimination against LGBTQ peers. The church must find a way to speak to students about these issues. To do this will require the church to reflect not just on modern biological knowledge but also on its own theology and tradition. For example, the church must be able to explain why women play so few roles within it22—particularly when Orthodoxy venerates the Theotokos as emblematic of the best that a human being can be. Further, the church will need to examine LGBTQ issues in the context of a theology professing unity and economy.23 A college community committed to the pursuit of truth would at least provide a forum for discussion. Finally, on a daily basis our media covers stories of students treating themselves and one another in shameful ways—intoxication and alcohol poisoning, “hooking up,” date rape, hazing, suicide—the list is extensive and deeply disturbing to educational institutions everywhere. Here Orthodox theology and ethics could question the mores of twenty-firstcentury students. Students could be asked to think about what is missing in sexual encounters if pleasure is the only end. Are things like intimacy and stability lost? An Orthodox culture could build and sustain a sense of eucharistic community grounded in mutual bonds of love that could go a long way toward eliminating some of the disrespectful and harmful elements of modern undergraduate life. Service

Moreover, such a community could inform a truly Orthodox service ethos. These days almost every institution of higher education in the


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United States insists that it is promoting service or volunteerism—so much so that this cocurricular activity with increasing frequency finds its way onto transcripts. Hence, though many students are sincere in their wish to help others, many are involved in a crass calculation of the benefits to be attained from serving. Orthodox theology takes utilitarian calculations out of good works. People do good works not because it will enable them to get into law school or AmeriCorps or even heaven. Building from a eucharistic understanding makes good works expressions of divine love. The service tradition in Orthodoxy is of long standing, beginning with the work of Saint John Chrysostom. Unfortunately, over millennia, political events, such as Turkish domination of a captive church and war, have contributed to diminishing the philanthropic activities of Orthodoxy. Hence, an Orthodox college presents an opportunity for Orthodoxy to reemphasize this part of its tradition.




If an Orthodox college could implant a culture embracing rationality, intellectual freedom and choice, and respect for genuine institutional authority, the church would be the primary beneficiary. Conversely, the church has a key role to play in helping students develop an appreciation of the value of institutions as repositories of much collective wisdom. Moreover, it is crucial for the church to develop a well-educated cohort of theologically informed, practicing young people who could play a vital role sustaining and reinvigorating the church in the years to come. Finally, the American Orthodox churches would benefit enormously from the challenges posed by intellectual dialogue on a college campus. The ongoing eclipse of the institutional church, with its decreasing membership, declining attendance at services, and waning influence over its faithful, is the result not just of twenty-first-century relativism and cynicism—what the church routinely decries with the catchall “secularism.” The church often fails to look at itself as a cause of some of this erosion. The church would do well to heed the late Jaroslav Pelikan’s observation that “tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living.”24 An Orthodox academic institution would provide the church with an opportunity to reflect on a changing world

An Orthodox College


and the need for changes from within in keeping with divine economia and God’s plan. NOTES 1. St. Vladimir’s Seminary did try in its early years to offer a truncated undergraduate curriculum and later a joint baccalaureate degree with another institution. Because St. Vladimir’s was never a four-year liberal arts college, I have omitted it from this list. 2. Orthodox Christian School Association, last updated 2016, www .orthodoxschools.org. 3. The Ukrainian Ostroh Academy, which was church-sponsored, is an exception but lasted only a few decades at the end of the sixteenth century. Paul Robert Magocsi, A History of the Ukraine (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 165. 4. Hugh Heclo, On Thinking Institutionally (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2008), 1–43. 5. Vladimir Lossky, “Apophasis and Trinitarian Theology,” in Daniel B. Clendenin, Eastern Orthodox Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1995), 149–53; John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology (New York: Fordham University Press, 1979), 11–14; and Dumitru Staniloae, The Experience of God, ed. and trans. Ioan Ionita, 3 vols. (Brookline: Holy Cross Press, 1998), 95–119. 6. Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church (London: Penguin Books, 1997), 221–25. 7. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 88. 8. Ibid., 89. 9. Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon, “Communion and Otherness,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 38, no. 4 (1994): 347–61. 10. Kallistos Ware, How Are We Saved? (Minneapolis: Light & Life Publishing, 1996), 68–83. 11. Ibid., 80–81. 12. Edward Burnett Tyler, Primitive Culture (New York: Harper, 1958), 1:1. 13. Patriarch Bartholomew, Encountering the Mystery (New York: Doubleday, 2008), 23. 14. Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology, 83–86; The Monks of New Skete, In the Spirit of Happiness (Boston: Little, Brown, 1999), 160–63; Staniloae, Experience of God, 45–50; Ware, How Are We Saved?, 195–201. 15. Archbishop Anastasios, Facing the World (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003), 89–91. 16. Ibid., 103–26.


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17. Michael J. Sandel, What Money Can’t Buy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), 131–62. 18. Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1998), 47–65; and Staniloae, Experience of God, 153–71. 19. Kallistos Ware, The Inner Kingdom (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2000), 182–83. 20. John Chryssavgis, Beyond the Shattered Image (Minneapolis: Light & Life Publishing, 1999). 21. I am grateful to my colleague Dr. Maria G. Mackavey for raising this issue many years ago and continuing to provide insight into its various dimensions. 22. For a discussion of women and the church, see Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, Discerning the Signs of the Times (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001), 95–123. 23. For an account of the need to bring LGBTQ into Orthodox community, see Steven Christoforou, “Throwing Stones,” Orthodox Observer, July– August 2013, 15. 24. Jaroslav Pelikan, The Vindication of Tradition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), 65.



E C U M E N I SM I N T H E CLA S S ROOM An Orthodox Perspective on Teaching in a Catholic University

r Adu B ordeiAnu

The Romanian Orthodox theologian Dumitru Staniloae (1903–93) affirmed that theology must prove fidelity to revelation, responsibility for the present community of the faithful, and openness to the eschatological future.1 Ecumenism—the movement that attempts to reestablish the visible unity among Christians—is implicit in Staniloae’s understanding of the very purpose of theology in general and Orthodox theology in particular.2 That is because the Eastern tradition is replete with instances of reunion when church unity is broken; it exists today in a world marked by pluralism; and it hopes for an eschaton where there will be unity and all creation will worship God in unison. Based on Staniloae’s work, this essay asserts that ecumenism is an intrinsic aspect of Orthodox teaching: our hope is that Christians work towards visible unity, and our theological pursuits must strive to repair brokenness and disunity. How, then, can one manifest the ecumenical character of theological teaching, research, and service, while staying faithful to the past, relevant to the present, and open eschatologically? 241


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Drawing from my experience as an Orthodox professor teaching in a Catholic university, in the present essay I address the ecumenical character of the three major facets of academic life: (1) teaching, (2) research, and (3) service.3 Hence, I focus primarily on the role of Orthodox professors of theology or religious studies teaching in various types of academic institutions, whether Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, or secular. While the ecumenical aspect of one’s academic life is more or less explicit, depending on the type of institution, I contend that ecumenism remains intrinsic to a sound theological education.


The contemporary context of theological teaching and learning is pluralistic in the sense that the religious and ethnic diversity of American society—usually open to dialogue and mutual enrichment—is clearly reflected in the classroom. Students and professors representing various religious and secular backgrounds gather in learning communities that can be guided to create a reconciled and enriched society. Moreover, churches themselves are not monolithic, and Orthodoxy is no exception. A recent study shows that 29 percent of members of the Greek Archdiocese in America and 51 percent of the Orthodox Church in America are converts.4 Moreover, more than 60 percent of marriages in the Greek Archdiocese are interfaith marriages, so multidenominationalism is a reality that informs students’ perceptions and sensitivities. In this pluralistic microcosm, the role of the professor should be to present new ideas in a sensitive and constructive manner, as well as to create an atmosphere of free academic inquiry, in which both students and professors express and engage their ideas constructively. In this sense, John Behr recommends that “both teachers and students ‘speak the truth in love’ (Eph 4:15), without resorting to polemical caricatures or ad hominem attacks, speaking instead courteously and soberly about the content of the matter in hand, willing to examine each and every issue openly and fully, to receive criticism gladly, becoming even wiser (Prov 9:8–9), and to change our minds when intellectual and spiritual honesty compels.”5 As a result of this atmosphere, students have a chance to learn and apply the mecha-

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nisms of ecumenical interactions and their benefits within the formative learning environment of the classroom. The hope is that ecumenism thus becomes a skill that students will use throughout their lives. Whether I teach ecumenism as a topic or other subjects from an ecumenical perspective, I implement several pedagogical methods. While I  do not teach interreligious dialogue, these methods could be easily adopted to fit the objectives of such a class. First, I am overt about the ecumenical objective of the course and construct the syllabus accordingly, assigning materials written by Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox authors. An Orthodox professor might feel the need to assign exclusively Orthodox texts, especially at students’ or administration’s request (if this was the intention with which the professor was hired). Moreover, a professor might consider that Orthodoxy is so insufficiently known that she or he should not miss any opportunity to present the wealth of Orthodox theology. And yet, most contemporary Orthodox theology has been written in dialogue with Protestant and Catholic theology, and it might even be intended to further this dialogue; hence an ecumenical reading list becomes a necessity, especially if theology is to contribute to Christian unity. Second, it is important to discover the differences between various denominations and propose possible solutions to current schisms. I assign student presentations on ten different churches, concentrating on the following categories: • •

• • • • • •

When was this denomination established, and in which circumstances? How does it regard the relationship between Christ and the Eucharist? Does it use the language of presence, symbol, or memorial to describe this relationship? Does it allow for intercommunion? Does this denomination have ordinations? Who ordains? Does it ordain women to the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopacy? Do its bishops claim to have apostolic succession? Does this denomination have an authoritative teaching other than the Bible that is binding for its members? Does it have church structures, and what authority do these have?


• •

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Is this denomination engaged in bilateral ecumenical dialogues and the World Council of Churches? And, most importantly, What should other Christians learn from this denomination? In other words, what gifts could this denomination share with other Christians?

After all churches have been presented, a table summarizes the similarities and differences between the various churches analyzed. Students thus can form their opinions about the degree of unity in diversity that Christianity can achieve today, given our past and present differences. Some are rather skeptical of the prospect of doctrinal unity (not to be confused with uniformity), distrust the churches’ willingness to change their positions, and want to preserve the identity and gifts of these denominations. They adopt pluralism, namely, the aspect of ecumenism that understands unity as mutual coexistence and collaboration among differing entities. While acknowledging the need to preserve the gifts that various churches bring into unity, other students embrace an inclusivist position, emphasizing the need to achieve visible unity.6 By preserving the gifts of various churches in diversity, ecumenism does not adopt a goal of uniformity. The task of ecumenism is to establish the limits of legitimate diversity, making the distinction between “Holy Tradition” and traditions7 or, as Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism #6 put it, between the deposit of faith and the various ways in which the faith has been formulated over centuries.8 Those who embrace inclusivism recognize that the form of unity that they propose will be a “costly union,” involving nothing less than disappearance of some church forms,9 which they are able to discuss based on their study of various churches. Since these presentations take place towards the end of the semester, students are already familiar with the ecumenical technical language employed in the above paragraph. Thus, they would have read the 1961 New Delhi Report of the Section on Unity, which offers the most famous and longest ecumenical description of visible unity: We believe that the unity which is both God’s will and his gift to his Church is being made visible as all in each place who are baptized into Jesus Christ and confess him as Lord and Savior are brought by

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the Holy Spirit into one fully committed fellowship holding the one apostolic faith, preaching the one Gospel, breaking the one bread, joining in common prayer and having a corporate life reaching out in witness and service to all and who at the same time are united with the whole Christian fellowship in all places and all ages in such way that ministry and members are accepted by all, and that all can act and speak together as occasion requires for the tasks to which God calls his people.10 Next, the authors acknowledge that many issues are still unresolved concerning the means of achieving this unity and the degree of diversity that is being sought. Then they explicitly reject uniformity as an option, since the unity we seek is marked by legitimate diversity. And yet, the authors continue, “the achievement of unity will involve nothing less than a death and rebirth of many forms of church life as we have known them. We believe that nothing less costly can finally suffice.”11 Thus, students would understand ecumenism as the quest for unity in diversity, rejecting both uniformity and certain forms of church life that are no longer in accord with the Gospel. Moreover, they would be familiar with various models of Christian unity, including the distinction between pluralism and inclusivism, leaving aside exclusivism for the purposes of this discussion. Thus, they would understand that a pluralistic society (i.e., formed by various religious and secular groups) does not necessarily imply ecumenical pluralism, as described above, and that inclusivism is compatible with the values of pluralistic societies, such as tolerance and mutual enrichment. Throughout these discussions it is important that everybody express their opinions freely and that others listen with respect. Arriving at a consensus is almost impossible in this setting, given the commitment to our respective faiths in their present form, the principles of civil discourse, the religious upbringing of some students, and so on. While everybody agreed to the principles of ecumenical dialogue presented earlier in the semester, at this point in the class it becomes apparent how difficult it is to apply these principles. And yet, the discussion is rewarding in that all engage critically with their own beliefs and those of their colleagues. Such discussions also provide professors with an excellent opportunity to apply,


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critique, and test their scholarship in the classroom; ecumenical solutions seem to be less acceptable in real life and in the classroom than they are in the library. Third, I try to guide students to experience practical ecumenism by including a service component. For example, students in my class are required to engage in some type of service as part of their course requirements and reflect theologically upon their experience. A common mistake in ecumenism is to split the agenda in two opposite directions: church unity and work for justice. At its best, however, ecumenism gives equal emphasis to both directions by striving towards a united Christendom that is a foretaste of the kingdom of God.12 Throughout the Gospels (e.g., Matt. 10:7–8), the kingdom of God is associated with the preaching of the good news and with healing from sickness, hunger, suffering, sin, and death. Applying together these values of the kingdom brings Christians doctrinally closer together, while theological unity generates the desire to serve the world together in healing and proclamation. I believe that a professor fully committed to excellence in teaching and scholarship cannot exclude the service component from academic life, but should instill in their students a profound concern for moral values, regardless of whether they teach in a secular or religious institution. Fourth, and closely related to the previous contention that academic life is not reserved exclusively to research and teaching of concepts, a professor has the opportunity to mentor students. As a dissertation director or student advisor, I try to instill in my students values and skills that help them not only in the immediate context of the classroom, but also in life in general. Mentoring is the pedagogical aspect closest to being a spiritual father or mother, a tradition that is prominent within Orthodox life and to which an Orthodox professor can testify in their academic endeavors. In addition to the ecumenical aim of these four considerations, these objectives in teaching also help students enrich their knowledge, develop academic skills, and enhance their sense of moral responsibility for their actions. Taken as a whole, the moral, theological, and ecumenical dimensions of teaching reflect the Christian tradition; they represent an important contribution to today’s society and church, and contribute towards the final goal of visible unity.

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To engage the question of ecumenism, Orthodox Christians need to first address the question, can we define our identity without reference to other churches today? Our second question is then, if the teachings of a united Christendom will be marked by unity in diversity, what does Orthodoxy contribute and how can it be enriched? The first question is motivated, on the one hand, by our increased awareness that the world is a global village, that our identity has been shaped by our past encounters with the other, and that today we exist in a complex web of relationships. On the other hand, the first question is motivated by an increasing rift within Orthodoxy between so-called traditionalists and progressive/ liberals, labels that are usually imposed artificially, depending on one’s attitude towards ecumenism, openness to society, ethical issues, or liturgical practices, all motivated by divergent views on Orthodox identity as enclosed in itself or as open towards the other—to put it perhaps simplistically. The second question is motivated by the double observation that other churches have gifts that Orthodoxy does not and that Orthodoxy can contribute with its own gifts, on the one hand, and that Orthodoxy itself is not monolithic, on the other hand. For example, apophatism is not defined exclusively through the prism of Vladimir Lossky’s theology of negation, but also through Chrestos Yannaras’s “apophaticism of the person,” understood as the infinite possibilities of encountering the human or divine person, or through Staniloae’s emphasis on the experiential aspect of apophatism.13 Today, the church has a certain obligation to define itself not only internally, but also in its relationship with society and other churches. In their research, contemporary Orthodox theologians cannot write without an honest engagement with these, as we used to do when we were forcibly isolated by the Ottoman Empire or Communist regimes, or maybe still do when we are the vast majority in a country. An honest engagement with the other requires that Orthodox scholars abandon caricaturist, polemical terminology when interacting with the West. Presupposing that Catholics know better than the Orthodox about what Catholics believe, it is best to let Catholic theologians speak


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for their faith by actually quoting them. It is astonishing how many books written by Orthodox theologians do not quote their sources while making very grave affirmations. In this regard, Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev writes: One cannot be but amazed how even the smallest differences between western and eastern traditions were frowned upon in the East and seen as digressions from the true faith. As for fundamental doctrinal divergences, these were viewed as nothing but ill-intended and conscious deformations of Orthodox dogma. Rarely did the East ponder the reasons for the emergence of certain practices, or for the development of certain dogmatic teachings in the West. Rarely did anyone endeavor to look at the Latin tradition through the eyes of the Latins themselves. One of the few exceptions was St. Maximus the Confessor, who made an attempt to understand the teaching about the Filioque from, as it were, the western perspective.14 Moreover, contemporary Orthodox theologians should avoid oversimplifications à la Théodore de Régnon, who contended that the East starts with person and multiplicity, while the West begins with essence and unity.15 De Régnon’s thesis was uncritically adopted by a surprising number of twentieth-century Orthodox theologians. Taking into account recent developments in Western theology, we need to challenge the formulations of our predecessors who wrote in a polemical tone. In a certain sense, our mission is to “translate” their (otherwise very valuable) thought in an ecumenical language. Our arguments must be constructive, humble, and truthful to our tradition. Writing with ecumenical sensitivity does not mean compromising essential elements of Orthodox theology such as concern for a personal encounter with God, apophatism, or connection with liturgy and spirituality. Staniloae considered in this regard that Orthodox theology can be of great help in bringing the churches together because of the close connection it makes between doctrine and spirituality, and because of the living spiritual core it looks for in every doctrinal formulation. In this process the doctrinal formulae of one Church cease to be rigid and opaque expressions opposed to

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equally rigid and opaque expressions used by the other Churches. Instead, they are seen to suggest the meanings of a living reality which shines through the formulations of one Church and encounters the living meanings of the doctrines of the other Churches. The different teachings of the Churches, if they take into account the spiritual effects which they themselves produce in the lives of men, can find a common interpretation corresponding to the spiritual purposes and necessities which are a matter of concrete concern to the Churches in the lives of their faithful.16 Thus, Staniloae proposed a “spiritual interpretation” of dogmas, highlighting the effects of theology in the lives of various churches, especially as they grow together towards unity. This growth implies the adoption of an ecumenical tone, as well as the possibility that churches will influence each other. To give just one example, Alexander Schmemann wrote about the positive change effected by the liturgical movement that began in the West and then influenced the East, with its focus on the “early, prescholastic understanding of the place of the eucharist in the Church, and, on the other hand, by the new, deepened study of the link between the Christian liturgical tradition and its Jewish roots. The works of such scholars as Dom Gregory Dix, Oscar Cullmann, Joachim Jeremias, Jean Daniélou and many others [have] broadened our knowledge of the religious forms of later forms of Judaism.”17 Alfeyev considers that the reverse is also true, writing about Western theologians who studied the fathers of the early church and transcended some of the denominational boundaries separating us today. Alfeyev suggests that Florovsky’s quest for a neo-patristic synthesis has inspired many not only among the Russian diaspora but also among western scholars. I would like here to pay tribute to those theologians who, though themselves not belonging to the eastern theological tradition, have nevertheless succeeded in uncovering the heritage of the great Fathers of the Orthodox Church, both for themselves and for the western world. Among them Irénée Hausherr, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, Jean Daniélou, Walther Völker, Werner Jaeger, Johannes Quasten, John Kelly, Gilles Prestige,


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Christoph Schönborn, Gabriel Bunge, and Sebastian Brock should be mentioned. The “patristic renaissance” of the twentieth century would have been impossible without these persons, true zealots of theological scholarship, who in their works were able to reach across the confessional barriers separating them from the Orthodox tradition.18 When scholars “reach across the confessional barriers separating them,” they adopt a new identity, a dialogical identity. Suggesting that Orthodoxy become part of the identity of scholars who engage with it, Andrew Louth asks rhetorically: “Is an Orthodox theologian a theologian who is Orthodox? Or are there theologians who are Orthodox whose theology is scarcely Orthodox? (Or even: are there theologians who are not Orthodox, but whose theology is? For instance, the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams?)”19 If the identity of non-Orthodox theologians includes an Orthodox aspect, the reverse is also true: a scholar who is denominationally Orthodox should include an ecumenical aspect. For this reason, Staniloae contended that, by placing a greater emphasis on catholicity or sobornicity, Orthodox theology will increasingly become ecumenical. Such development is necessary both intrinsically for Orthodoxy and extrinsically, with Orthodoxy contributing towards Christian unity. He continued: “Orthodox sobornicity, as a true organic unity in plurality, can serve as a model—even as a final goal—for the different Churches in the progress of their ecumenical relations, showing them the possibility of combining a many-sided and real unity together with a mutual recognition of their diversities in other areas and a mutual respect for their freedom in a shared unity.”20 Thus, Staniloae outlined a constructive methodology of achieving a Christian unity marked by diversity, not uniformity, just as I have stated in the previous section on ecumenical teaching. In this section, however, I have focused on the ecumenical aspect of theological research, arguing that Orthodox scholars cannot write an enclosed theology, nor can they resort to polemical, caricaturist language. To put it positively, Orthodox identity is dialogical, rather than confrontational and isolationist. Orthodox scholarship has now the opportunity to present its gifts and also to be enriched by other perspectives, thus contributing to ecu-

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menism’s goal of Christian unity, being relevant in today’s pluralistic society, and being faithful to its past.


The real test for the ideas that we teach in class and for our scholarship is their applicability in life. Moreover, these experiences stimulate our thinking, raise challenging questions, and nourish our intellectual pursuits. Hence, service to the university, church, and society is another essential aspect of academic life. Next, I outline several personal ecumenical initiatives that will, hopefully, inspire Orthodox scholars to contribute to the cause of Christian unity through their service. I am the director of Duquesne University’s annual “Holy Spirit Lecture and Colloquium.” Past speakers are Geoffrey Wainwright, Walter Kasper, Kallistos Ware, Elizabeth Johnson, Sandra Schneiders, Robert Hughes, Brian Daley, Richard Gaillardetz, and Paul McPartlan. The lecture is open to the public and is attended by more than two hundred invited guests, followed by a private colloquium. Over two thousand interested readers receive gratis the text of the lecture.21 Thus, we can create an ecumenical atmosphere by inviting scholars from all areas of Christianity to our conferences. At the level of the theology department, I have founded and organized a research group geared towards faculty and graduate students, entitled Readings in Systematic Theology Group. Moreover, I am one of the cofounders and organizers of another, similar group, Symbolon– Patristic Biblical Exegesis Group. Besides analyzing theological works, both groups have invited keynote speakers and student papers, where our doctoral students rehearse their conference presentations and get constructive feedback. Given the various research interests and denominational backgrounds of those involved in these discussions, our dialogue is eminently ecumenical by bringing into dialogue various traditions, emphasizing their contemporary relevance, and working towards a convergent position. Several other aspects of ecumenical service come to mind as potentials for ecumenical development. A theology department could include


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an ecumenical component in its mission and vision statements, while a religious studies department at a secular university could emphasize its intention to analyze a broad array of perspectives, explicitly mentioning the multiplicity of Christian traditions and their quest for unity. When theology professors speak at university events, advise local chapters of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), and represent Orthodoxy on television, radio, or newspapers, they could bring an awareness of the hope for unity to their task. Local congregations and professional organizations of various denominations also invite Orthodox theology professors in an effort to better know each other and collaborate on various projects. Last but not least, an Orthodox professor could be involved in local (and not only) ecumenical organizations or represent their church in ecumenical forums, if so appointed by their bishops. All these elements involve Orthodox scholars in the life of their church as well as other churches, and society at large, making their teaching more effective, their scholarship more applicable, and their service more meaningful.




In conclusion, Orthodox professors of theology or religious studies teaching in secular or religious non-Orthodox institutions of higher education have the opportunity to contribute to the cause of Christian unity. Without necessarily making ecumenism the primary object of their academic life, scholars can adopt an ecumenical approach to their teaching, research, and service. An ecumenical approach to teaching implies that professors ask students to analyze the current state of Christianity and attempt to identify constructive solutions to our disunity, develop the academic skills necessary to engage in dialogue, and experience the joy of serving the world together with other students, regardless of their religious beliefs. Orthodox scholarship written in an ecumenical key emphasizes the dialogical identity of Orthodox theology, as well as the mutual benefits of dialogue, where, enriched by other perspectives, various theologies grow in a unity marked by a constructive diversity. Finally, service allows for the working of Christian unity in very practical terms. It can be directed either towards the needs of one’s own church or towards the cause of Christian unity. Spreading the values of the kingdom—namely,

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proclaiming the good news and bringing healing to the world—together with other Christians brings the various churches into a more meaningful communion. Thus, ecumenism is intrinsic to a theological education that is relevant in today’s pluralistic society, while being faithful to tradition and guiding the church towards its visible union.

NOTES 1. Dumitru Staniloae, The Experience of God: Revelation and Knowledge of the Triune God, trans. Ioan Ionita and Robert Barringer, 2nd ed. (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1998), 1:84, 88. See also Dumitru Staniloae, Teologia Dogmatica Ortodoxa [Orthodox dogmatic theology], 2nd ed. (Bucharest: EIBMBOR, 1996), 1:73. 2. For the ecumenical relevance of Staniloae’s theology, see my book Dumitru Staniloae: An Ecumenical Ecclesiology (New York: T & T Clark / Continuum, 2011). 3. I am privileged to teach at Duquesne University, where, in accordance with our mission, I am serving God by serving students. I have taught undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral classes and I have directed several dissertations of Roman and Byzantine Catholic candidates. I have previously been a teacher in a Romanian Seminary, so I experienced the joy of educating the future generation of priests for my church. Furthermore, I presuppose that the classroom includes, besides the room proper and onsite visits, virtual classrooms. In a master’s-level class, I had students present in the classroom, as well as at three different sites in West Virginia, communicating with them through videoconferencing. There is at least one positive instance of internet-based distance learning in the Orthodox Church—the Internet School of Orthodox Studies (ISOS), organized by the Greek Archdiocese. Let us hope that such initiatives will multiply. 4. Alexei D. Krindatch, The Orthodox Church Today: A National Study of Parishioners and the Realities of Orthodox Parish Life in the USA (Berkeley, CA: Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, 2008). See esp. parts 3, 8, and 9, http://www.hartfordinstitute.org/research/OrthChurchFullReport.pdf. 5. John Behr, “With Boldness and without Condemnation,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 51, no. 4 (2007): 369. 6. For a discussion of Konrad Raiser’s “exclusivist-inclusivist-pluralist” typology, see Michael Kinnamon, The Vision of the Ecumenical Movement and How It Has Been Impoverished by Its Friends (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2003), 109–12.


Radu Bordeianu

7. Concerning the distinction between “Holy Tradition” and traditions, see for example, Georges Florovsky, “The Quest for Christian Unity and the Orthodox Church,” in Collected Works of Georges Florovsky, Emeritus Professor of Eastern Church History, Harvard University (Belmont, MA: Norland Publishing Company, 1972), vol. 13. 8. Second Vatican Council, Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Postconciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P., rev. ed., (Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1998), 1:459. 9. For a good analysis of the ecumenical discussion on the nature of the unity we seek, see Kinnamon, Vision of the Ecumenical Movement, 51–64. 10. New Delhi Statement on Unity (World Council of Churches, 1961), quoted in ibid., 153–54. 11. Kinnamon, Vision of the Ecumenical Movement, 154. 12. Ibid., 37–49. To support his argument that ecumenism should not “split the agenda” into unity and justice, Kinnamon quotes Lesslie Newbigin, who wrote: “I do not think that a resolute dealing with our divisions will come except in the context of a quite new acceptance on the part of all the churches of the obligation to bring the gospel to every creature; nor do I think that the world will believe that gospel until it sees more evidence of its power to make us one.” Lesslie Newbigin, The Household of God (New York: Friendship Press, 1954), 174. 13. See Radu Bordeianu, review of Orthodox Spirituality: A Practical Guide for the Faithful and a Definitive Manual for the Scholar, by Dumitru Staniloae, trans. from the Romanian by Archimandrite Jerome (Newville) and Otilia Kloos, Archaeus 12–13 (2007–8): 414; Andrew Louth, review of Being with God: Trinity, Apophaticism, and Divine-Human Communion, by Aristotle Papanikolaou, St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 51, no. 4 (2007): 447. 14. Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, “The Faith of the Fathers: The Patristic Background of the Orthodox Faith and the Study of the Fathers on the Threshold of the 21st Century,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 51, no. 4 (2007): 383–84. 15. Théodore de Régnon, Études de théologie positive sur la Sainte Trinité, 3 vols. (Paris: Retaux, 1892–98). John Meyendorff encouraged Orthodox theologians to challenge the traditional model in which the East is more concerned with the Trinitarian persons, while the West with the divine essence, especially in regard to Augustine. See John Meyendorff and Michael A. Fahey, Trinitarian Theology East and West: St. Thomas Aquinas—St. Gregory Palamas (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1977), 36. Moreover, Yves Congar has shown that de Régnon’s theory is not completely true, although Congar did not dismiss it totally. Congar stated that seeing the Trinity as starting from the persons was a continuous tradition in the West, even if a minor one. Yves Congar, I Believe in the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit in the “Economy”; Revelation and Experience of the Spirit, trans. David Smith, 3 vols. (New York: Seabury Press, 1983), 1:85–92.

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16. Dumitru Staniloae, Theology and the Church, trans. Robert Barringer (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980), 221–22. In the same article (217), Staniloae added: “Western theology often leads toward the same spiritual and mystical core of Revelation, and so by this path comes to merge with Orthodox theology.” 17. Alexander Schmemann, The Eucharist (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1987), 196. 18. Alfeyev, “Faith of the Fathers,” 380. 19. Andrew Louth, “What Is Theology? What Is Orthodox Theology?,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 51, no. 4 (2007): 438–39. 20. Staniloae, Theology and the Church, 221. This multiplicity and complementarity represent a middle way between theological uniformity and (what I would call) a “postmodern type” of theological diversity or, actually, disunity. J.-M.-R. Tillard writes in this sense: “Reactions to Faith and Order’s Lima Document on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry show in fact that some either dream of a unity very close to uniformity, or some cling to the defense of a pluralism that is almost without limits. But uniformity suffocates communion, whereas certain differences on fundamental points make it nonviable. Unity without diversity makes the Church a dead body: pluralism without unity makes a body which is dismembered.” J.-M.-R. Tillard, Church of Churches: The Ecclesiology of Communion, trans. R. C. De Peaux (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992), 320. 21. These texts and more information about the lecture are available at www.duq.edu/holy-spirit.



THEOSIS AN D TH E OL OG I C A L LIT ERA CY Identity Formation and Teaching Theology to Undergraduates

A ristotle P APAnikolAou

As an Orthodox Christian scholar who specializes in Orthodox Christianity, only in retrospect can I answer the question of how my Orthodox faith affects my teaching in a non-Orthodox institution of higher learning. I did not have clearly formulated answers to this question when I started teaching at Fordham University’s Theology Department in the fall of 2000. In looking back on my approach to teaching undergraduates in a Roman Catholic university, I clearly see that my Orthodox faith has always been the angle through which I have approached all my courses. A single thread binds together the point of the courses I have taught, and that thread is grounded in my Orthodox faith. Since this aspect of my teaching became clear to me upon reflection on my career at Fordham, exactly how my Orthodox faith has always surrounded all I have done at Fordham is best illustrated through narrating various parts of my Fordham story. When I was hired at Fordham, I was told that I was to teach the core freshman theology course, Faith and Critical Reason. Although I was 256

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given some guidelines, together with a few sample syllabi, I was left to construct the syllabus according to my own strengths. Several thoughts immediately came to mind, which served as structural rubrics for how I would frame the course. First, I guessed that many students in the class would resent being forced to take a theology course as a core requirement. The source of this resentment would be twofold: (1) many students would be burnt out on the theology courses they might have taken in a private Roman Catholic high school; (2) some students would also be questioning how theology could be taught in an academic setting when it is a matter of private, subjective “opinion.”1 The study of theology is virtually absent in schools of all levels in the United States, and many students find it almost an affront that Fordham would dare defy that consensus on the moratorium of the study of theology. These students, I thought, would be on the defensive, having already decided that taking this course was simply the price they had to pay for attending Fordham. I structured my course to address this resistance by first making students aware of how they arrived at their own ideas about theology. In order to accomplish this self-critical awareness, I structured the first part of the course as a sociological, historical, and philosophical exploration of secularization in the United States. We begin by looking at the debate about secularization,2 return to the past to make schematic sense of how we got here, and end by discussing the face of modern religion— fundamentalism.3 In historically tracing the process of secularization, students study Descartes, Newton, and the masters of suspicion— Feuerbach, Marx, and Freud—who, in my opinion, did theology a favor with their unrelenting and vociferous attack on religion. My goal in this part of the course is to make students aware that their ideas about theology, their interpretation of the religious experience in terms of being religious versus being spiritual, their resistance to and caricatures of what it means to be religious, did not emerge in a vacuum. Where they stand in relation to theology has much to do with a process that began almost four hundred years ago—the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment; they are products of this history as much as they are actors in it. I end with a discussion of fundamentalism in the hope that what they see as the dominant face of religion is, ironically, a modern phenomenon. In making students more critically aware of the context within which they


Aristotle Papanikolaou

construct their own ideas about theology and religion, I help them to be more open to thinking otherwise about theology and religion. My goal is to open them up to the possibility of theology as a form of self-critical reflection on questions posed to the human experience that are simply unavoidable. It is only after they develop this self-critical awareness of the current situation that I then lead them to more existential questions about faith, which include faith and the existence of evil, the nature of faith, faith and reason, and faith and practices. Christian theology is not explicitly addressed in this latter part of the course, although it is clearly framing the discussion. The exploration of these themes is more self-consciously theological, but the goal is less to convey specific content than to open students to new ways of thinking about these issues, different from the usual caricatures with which they are familiar. Many students think that theology attempts to rationalize the existence of God in light of evil, but is that really the only way to think about the question of God and evil? Some students think that faith has nothing to do with reason, but is that really the case? Most students think that one faith cannot be argued to be more reasonable than another faith, even if that faith is in something absurd—like the flying spaghetti monster—but does that make sense? Students also think the point of religious practices is to prove oneself to God, but is that all there is to it? It is at this point of the course that my Orthodox faith is most apparent, though not necessarily to the students. The whole course is structured in such a way as to open the possibility that students will think about theology differently by making them aware of their own preconceptions and caricatures, and the way that I am personally trying to emphasize is an understanding of the God-world relation in terms of theosis, which I prefer to translate as divine-human communion. I think students like to declare that they are spiritual as opposed to religious because they have a monolithic view of religion, which religions themselves have fostered.4 They think to be a part of religion is to blindly accept an authoritarian structure that dictates what should be believed, is run by dictatorial leaders, and tries to scare people into compliance by reminding people of the possibility of hell. Students think the gist of religion is to do and believe what one is told so as to get a reward after death. They also think

Theosis and Theological Literacy


religion is hypocritical, as it seems not to practice what it preaches. Notwithstanding the measure of truth embedded within all these claims— critiques of which all religions must claim some ownership—my goal is not to challenge directly these caricatures about religion, but to show the students that it could be otherwise. This “otherwise” is an understanding of the human being as called to a relationship of communion with God, and practices like prayer and fasting were not developed to prove something to God or to score points with God, but are time-tested practices that rewire the body so as to make it available to the always-on-offer presence of God. I want to show them that their understanding of bad religion is based on bad theology—a nominalistic/dualistic conception of God in which God stands over and against the world, creating the world, dictating rules, and moving souls around after death.5 I hope to persuade them that good theology attempts to make sense of how God can be in relation to the not-God, the world, and still be God; or, how the world can be in communion with God without being consumed by divinity. It is for this reason I end the course with readings either written by Orthodox thinkers (Saint Gregory of Nyssa, Anthony Bloom), or treat an Orthodox theme, such as the Jesus Prayer (Salinger’s Franny and Zooey). Rather than overbearing über-structures that are designed to force people to think a certain way, to always make people think they are never doing enough, I try to lead the students to an understanding of being “religious” that has to do with formation of the person to be in a certain way—and that being is one of communion with the divine. In this sense, being religious is less about agreeing to certain propositions or following certain rules, and more about transforming one’s mode of being in the world. Being religious is very much like being an artist. Because Fordham has a special BFA program with the Alvin Ailey School, I use dance as an analogy. I ask the students whether someone who has studied dance but has never danced “knows” dance as well as someone who has trained as a dancer. They immediately and instinctively answer that the trained dancer “knows” more about dance. I then try to lead them to articulate what this “knowing” entails, if it’s not simply reading books about dance and attending performances. A dancer must submit to a regimen of training that usually begins with basic practices that must be mastered to the point where they are performed without thinking. This training is done


Aristotle Papanikolaou

under the tutelage of a teacher, who has been through the training. The student of dance then progresses to more advanced practices, still under the guidance of a teacher, struggling to integrate techniques of dance into their very being as a dancer. All this training is usually done within an institutional setting, where there are clear hierarchies, boards of directors, politics, a community of dancers that don’t all like one another, dancers who are more concerned with their ego than simply dance for the sake of dance. And, yet, in the midst of all this ugliness, there is a tradition of formation in dance that is passed on from generation to generation that is time tested and through which one may emerge as a “dancer,” and that could not have been formed without institutionalization. It’s only by submitting to this tradition that one can lead oneself to a kind of performance where a dancer is not aware of the audience, is not dancing to the audience, but is dancing simply for the sake of dance; a kind of performance where rather than the dancer controlling the particular moves of the choreography, the choreography and all that it attempts to express has seized the dancer. Those capable of this kind of performance are usually the saints of the tradition of dance, who don’t attempt to reify the past, but add to the tradition while always remaining within it. This kind of performance could never be possible without submitting to this kind of training, and it’s only through the practices of the tradition that one can hope to be this kind of dancer. Being religious, then, is about being in a way that embodies the divine presence, and working toward being available toward the divine presence in and through religious practices and tradition. Being religious is not a set of rules one must follow or a bunch of propositions to which one must assent; it is first and foremost an art form, an expression of beauty that is also truth and goodness. The rules and propositions of the tradition—and every tradition has its rules and propositions—aim at the production of the person as a work of art. To illustrate this, I turn explicitly to the Christian commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . and . . . love your neighbor as yourself ” (Matt. 22:36–39 NRSV). I pose a hypothetical to the students: If I had a neighbor whom I hated and toward whom I felt anger, if I gave my neighbor $5,000 so that he or she could avoid being “whacked” for not paying gambling debts, have I fulfilled the

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commandment? The students are smart enough to know that just giving money out of kindness or out of sympathy does not fulfill the commandment. I then tell them that, hypothetically, as a Christian, I have a problem—I know in my heart that I have hate and anger for my neighbor. As Saint Maximus the Confessor says, “The one who sees a trace of hatred in his own heart through any fault at all toward any man whoever he may be makes himself completely foreign to the love for God, because love for God in any way admits of no hatred for man.”6 How, then, do I change that? Once we get past comments like, “Well you can love someone without liking them,” students start to get the idea that love is something that one works toward, that is realized in a way that has depth in and through certain practices. My hate for my neighbor may be overcome if I force myself to have conversations with him, and conversation is a practice. Students understand that two people who celebrate fifty years of commitment have a love that is different than when they first met. Such a celebration does not necessarily mean that it was free of moments of temptation and possible betrayal; but students understand that for two people to celebrate such a love that has achieved a depth not present at the start of the relationship, practices had to be performed in order both to sustain the relationship and to make it possible for love to reach such depths. Saint Maximus the Confessor is constantly in the back of my mind as I try to explain to the students that practices help to form virtues such as patience, kindness, honesty, empathy, forgiveness—to name only a few—that are needed to make growth in love possible and to avoid vices such as dishonesty, fear, anger, hatred, and self-loathing, which destroy relationships. The Christian commandment to love is a calling to a certain kind of relationship with God, a realization of love; and, since God is love, it’s a relationship of communion with God, of experience of God, of theosis. This relationship, however, requires work, not to merit the love—as if love can be merited—but to make oneself available for the fullness of love that God offers, which is nothing less than God’s very life. Students are not quite sure what to say when I ask them how a practice like fasting contributes to the learning of love. When I explain that fasting is linked to something we do every day—food—and that every time we fast, food is an occasion to bring God to our awareness, and that


Aristotle Papanikolaou

this awareness helps sustain a relation with God that makes love possible, they get it. If two people had a relationship of distance and never wrote to one another, then forgetfulness would be likely, and love could not grow. Since God is invisible, forgetfulness of God is one of the greatest human temptations. Fasting helps to mitigate that forgetfulness and, in so doing, makes love for God possible. In addition to memory, fasting as a discipline helps form the virtues mentioned above, which, again, are the condition for the possibility of realizing a depth of love. In the end, to be Christian is not simply to follow rules and assent to propositions; to be Christian is to be loving in the form of the greatest commandment; like being a dancer, it is to perform love in such a way that love (God) has seized our being. There are plenty of Christians who follow all the rules and assent to all the required propositions, but who cannot seem to get past anger and hatred of those who disagree with their propositions and rules; and there are Christians who use this faithfulness to rules and propositions as a platform for attacking others. Christianity is a being that is realized in and through particular practices that are time tested in the Christian ascetical tradition. As Orthodox scholars and educators, we have to be aware that the question of this generation of college students is not “why God?” but “why religion?” My hope, perhaps overly optimistic, is to introduce a different way of understanding being religious, one that entails an experience of the living God. The possibility of such an experience requires, however, tradition, institutionalization, and practices. This experience emerges within and through the tradition, in a way that allows one to manifest the beauty of the tradition even amidst its ugliness, and to situate oneself in relation to this ugliness without anger, hatred, or selfrighteousness. My students are searching for purity; I have to teach them that they will not find it and that they have to learn to live with ambiguity, even in a liberal democracy, in which lie their greatest hopes. What I want them to see is that there is a way of being religious that is the experience of God, and it is this experience that gives them the greatest hope to negotiate this ambiguity in the world. My Orthodox faith in the possibility of our deification, of our union with God, is the heart and soul of my Faith and Critical Reason, and all my other classes at Fordham. Following the lead of Saint Paul’s inter-

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actions with the Athenians, I try to meet the students where they are in thinking about religion. If their big question is “why religion?,” then that’s the question I answer in a way that opens up the possibility of another understanding of being religious that entails the experience of God. The Orthodox understanding of theosis is the single greatest contribution that Orthodox scholars can offer to the academic world, no matter what the discipline. Orthodox scholars in the academy can teach students and faculty to think about aspects of Christianity, theology, God, human beings, and the world that they may not previously have considered. Orthodox educators, however, can also challenge the bias against theology in academic settings;7 they can teach faculty that theology is a critical discipline that explores questions that inevitably surround human existence and critically examines the long history of responses to these questions. They can try to convince other academics that we will not make fundamentalism go away by marginalizing religion but by encouraging more critical discussion and debate about religious ideas, and by increasing theological literacy. In order to change the rules of the academic discourse, Orthodox scholars can also challenge the anti-intellectualism of contemporary Orthodoxy; they can discredit such silly dualisms between mysticism and reason as are promoted by some Orthodox theologians, and recover the importance of reason in mystical theology that is present in the fathers of the church, especially Saint Maximos the Confessor. Orthodox Christians can also support the creation of Orthodox programs at institutions of higher learning, such as the Orthodox Christians Studies Center at Fordham University. There is no secret to how such a center devoted to Orthodox studies was started—the recipe is simply a supportive administration, Orthodox faculty, and support by Orthodox Christians, who must realize that now that we have built our churches and seminaries, it is time to infiltrate the institutions of higher learning in the United States. Turks, Jews, Armenians, Roman Catholics, and many other ethnic and religious groups historically have understood the importance of involvement in institutions of higher learning. In the fourth century, the Emperor Julian attempted to keep Christians from teaching the classics in what were considered then the institutions of the higher learning. There are letters from Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian condemning such a move. Quite contrary to the


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usual caricatures about Orthodoxy not being concerned with the intellectual life, or with learning, or with reason, both Saint Basil and Saint Gregory knew exactly what was at stake in shutting out Christians from institutions of higher learning. Orthodox Christianity has something of a message to communicate that the world is not used to hearing—that humans are created for communion with the living God. It is a message that can impact all academic disciplines, not just theology. Orthodox Christians must use all means necessary to proclaim this message, not least of which is a strong and vital presence in institutions of higher learning. NOTES 1. Compare the following: “Religion is a personal choice to the vast majority of emerging adults, ultimately an individual, private matter. Nobody can tell anyone else what’s right for him or her.” One emerging adult in Smith’s study remarks, “I guess I am a religious person, but I’m not, like, dedicated. I don’t go to church every Sunday, read my Bible every day. I think it’s more an inner than an outer thing.” See Christian Smith, Souls in Transition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 162. “The majority of emerging adults can express very well how people are shaped and bound by their personal subjective experiences. But most have great difficulty grasping the idea that a reality that is objective to their own awareness or construction of it may exist that could have a significant bearing on their lives. In philosophical terms, most emerging adults functionally (meaning how they actually think and act, regardless of the theories they hold) are soft ontological antirealists and epistemological skeptics and perspectivalists” (Smith, 45). “Although none would put it in exactly this way, what emerging adults take to be reality ultimately seems to consist of a multitude of subjective but ultimately autonomous experiences. People are thus trying to communicate with each other in order to simply be able to get along and enjoy life as they see fit. Beyond that, anything truly objectively shared or common or real seems impossible to access” (Smith, 46). 2. Secularization theory continues to be a hotly debated topic within the field of sociology of religion. For a comprehensive and widely received history of secularization in Western Christendom, see Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007). See also Alexander Schmemann’s definition of secularism from an Orthodox Christian perspective in For the Life of the World (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1973); also

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Steven Bruce, God Is Dead: Secularization in the West (New York: Blackwell Publishing, 2002). 3. Steven Bruce, Fundamentalism (Malden, MA: Polity, 2000). For a historical overview of fundamentalism in American culture, see historian George Marsden’s Fundamentalism and American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006). 4. “Nones” on the Rise: One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation, Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, October 9, 2012 (pdf ), http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/, 22, 29, 41, 50–51, 58–61. See also Christian Smith, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 74–76. 5. For an in-depth study that identifies the prevailing adolescent and emerging-adult view of God and religion, see Christian Smith, Soul Searching, 164–65. Smith describes the attributes of the “God” in whom many American young adults believe in the following way: “[Their religious beliefs involve] a particular kind of God: one who exists, created the world, and defines our general moral order, but not one who is particularly personally involved in one’s affairs— especially affairs in which one would prefer not to have God involved. Most of the time, the God of this faith keeps a safe distance.” 6. Four-Hundred Chapters on Love, in Maximus the Confessor: Selected Writings, trans. George C. Berthold (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1985), 37 (1.15). 7. For one such attempt, written from a more broadly Christian perspective, see George Marsden’s The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).



PE R S P E C T I V E S F R OM TH E A CA D EMY Being Orthodox and a Scientist

g Ayle e. w oloschAk


Many scholars have noted that science and religion fall into two different worlds, worlds so distant that entering one precludes awareness of the other. These worlds come with different ideologies that are not based on reality as much as on preconceived ideas, political views, and labels. Whether science and religion are at war or at peace with each other depends on one’s vantage point, and certainly many have reconciled them in their own minds and hearts as well as in their published work.1 The root cause of the alleged dichotomy is not clear, nor is it the goal of this essay to define the causes of this notion (although it has been explored by others and could be an interesting avenue for future reflection). According to the war model of science-religion interface, science and religion are divided by differences that cannot be reconciled. Those scientists who consider science to be fighting religion view the latter as some sort of holdover of remnants from humanity’s “irrational religious” past. People of faith who think that religion is fighting science see this war as a battle between the spiritual and the material. Both of these views are 266

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extremes that are poorly expressed and discussed not only in academia but also in the surrounding public arena. Each side in this war is filled with ideologies that are more stereotypical than accurate. Science is portrayed as lacking any spiritual dimension, hardened and unyielding, and religion is presented as fundamentalist, stale and visceral, with no intellect associated with it. Representatives of both camps are common, and some of them are present in academic environments. Often, they are people who believe the science-religion war is more important than the principles of either science or faith. I walk in both camps daily, attuned to ideological propaganda that devotees of the war attitude on either side are likely to express. I love and respect science in general and biological evolution most especially. I am a practicing scientist; the creative process, the insightful approaches, and the taunting of my imagination that scientific discoveries provide delight me. At the same time, I am an Orthodox Christian who is committed to the spiritual life and who struggles to be on the journey for the truth. These two spheres of my life coexist harmoniously. The only conflicts I have experienced are with those from either arena who do not accept what either field truly gives but are rather committed to the ideologies that are tagged to it.


The scientific community is not friendly toward religion in general. Most recently, a Pew survey of scientists documented that only 50 percent of scientists believe in some type of supreme being, but that among them many are not drawn to organized religion of any type.2 The study did not probe the reasons for these responses among scientists, but selected scientists have commented on this tendency. Certainly numerous scientists in the literature, such as Richard Dawkins, have vociferously expressed an antireligion fervor. It is not goal of this work to argue against Dawkins or others with similar views. This has been done articulately in the literature.3 Nevertheless, despite the attention that the press has paid to these antireligion scientists, other scientists such as Francis Collins and Ursula Goodenough have written about their own spiritual beliefs.4


Gayle E. Woloschak

Considering the volubility of some antireligion-oriented scientists, it is probably not surprising that the majority of scientists who are believers show no more than tepid religiosity. Peer pressure in science exists just as it does in other areas of life; thus, those who are vehement in their opinions create a climate where persecution in many small ways can abide. Antireligion prejudice has shown itself in many ways in my own personal experiences and my experiences with students and others in academe. Two examples will illustrate my point. In reviewing candidates for a joint position at a major academic center, the chairman of a department stated that he would never consider any applicant seriously who has worked with the Templeton Foundation, which funds initiatives for science and religion, because “we all know that they are anti-evolution and anti-science.” These accusations against the Templeton Foundation are simply untrue; Templeton has funded many investigators to explore approaches to bring the teaching of evolution into seminaries (traditional and nontraditional) in the United States and has championed interdisciplinary discussions between science and religion. When I explained this to him, he was unmoved, although in the end he did seriously consider the candidate. A second example concerns a basic science faculty member who was also teaching a collaboratively taught seminary course that I directed at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago called The Epic of Creation. This course presents concepts of the beginning of the universe to development of humanity and culture to pastors of several denominations from different seminaries in the Chicago area. The lectures start with the big bang theory, then move to the beginning of life on our planet, evolutionary biology, and anthropology; after that, biblical scholars from several seminaries teach about the historic context in which the Genesis stories were written, touching upon the other creation stories that exist in the Old Testament (such as those in Psalms, Job, and elsewhere) and reflections of it in the New Testament. Finally, the course ends with a series of talks by theologians who provide theological reflections on the creation stories, pointing out that one can accept the scientific facts without denying the theological significance of the biblical texts. The syllabus and all of the speakers and topics are listed on a course website. After several years of participating in this course, one of the lecturers told me that he

Perspectives from the Academy


had been rejected as a speaker at a scientific conference in Germany because he was one of the faculty listed for the Epic of Creation course. When I asked how this could possibly be the case, he informed me that the organizers for the conference had seen his name listed on the course website and assumed that he was a creationist. The organizers made this decision without looking at the purpose and required readings of the course. In both of these examples, one can find a “rush to judgment” attitude about any religion-related activity that is sadly but clearly evident in the academic scientific community. In both cases we see examples of “antireligion ideology” rather than the concern for what was purportedly at issue. In both cases, it was assumed that any religion-accepting scientists are automatically “creationists” even though the condemned scientists were trying to bring the concept of biological evolution to the religious community. Why is this antireligion sentiment so strong in the scientific community? I suspect that it is related to a perceived separation between intellect and spirituality. Scientists often believe (and I am overgeneralizing, of course) that science is mechanically based on logic and conclusions made from experimental, empirical data. This is not true, of course. There is a great deal of “nonmechanic” that goes into science; consideration of what thread of evidence should be followed is strongly based on intuition, and it is as critical for ultimate success as is the ability to sift through the sensory data to obtain a clear picture or comprehend a sound. The good scientist learns to “follow his/her gut” and use logic together with intuition and insights to understand experimental discoveries to their fullest. Creativity is a crucial ingredient of scientific research, and yet creativity cannot be engaged “by demand.” These insightful creative moments (often called the “aha” moment) reflect depths outside human understanding. While all good scientists express this creativity, many do not recognize that it is not so much a “process” with definable steps but rather some sort of spark of otherworldliness in each of us.5 One interesting aspect of the Pew survey cited above was that the percentage of believers among scientists changed dramatically with age, from 46 percent (including those that believe in some supreme being) in the over-sixty-five group to 66 percent in the under-thirty-five group.6 One


Gayle E. Woloschak

can speculate that peer pressure trends with regard to religion are changing for young scientists; a new openness to religion may be emerging among students of science. How much this will change the religious attitudes in academics of “natural sciences” remains to be seen. In today’s funding climate early career investigators often have difficulty obtaining grant funding for their research and, as a consequence, are rarely competitive for academic positions. One can ask, is the Orthodox Christian somehow “ghettoized” in the scientific academic workplace? The answer is yes, but this is not specific for Orthodox Christians, or even for Christians. The prejudice prevailing in the scientific environment is directed at all believers in a broad sense regardless of their faith tradition. Perhaps the stigma is greatest against those who practice their faith, who attend church, who fast, and so on. I do not want to leave the impression that there are no “believers” among scientists. Many are believers on their own in their independent way, even when this behavior is generally not accepted in the scientific community. I have heard only a few stories of colleagues at academic institutions (mostly smaller teaching universities) who have weekly Bible studies at noon for those who are interested. These Bible studies are generally rare, and participation is often low. A significant portion of the scientific community works in a medical school environment, particularly those that are involved in research in biological and biomedical sciences. For that reason, it is useful to examine the medical school situation and context.


Basic scientists in medical schools are no different than the rest of the basic science community with respect to antireligion prejudice, at least as far as my experience has shown. What is unique about medical schools is the presence of doctors and nurses and others who are surrounded each day with life-and-death situations. There is probably nothing that can bring one to awareness that there is something “more” to life, something “beyond” this life, than the closeness of death. Among my medical colleagues I have repeatedly noted a willingness to talk about faith and faith

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experiences. I have heard many talk about the importance of touching their patients, the importance of listening and caring, and noting that cures are not in the hands of the doctor but in some Other. I have heard colleagues from all faith backgrounds (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Hindu) talk about praying with their patients and for their patients, even when they do not belong to organized religion. Medical schools tend to be interdisciplinary in the approach to patient treatment, and this goal, of ultimately working to cure diseases, is a team objective rather than the effort of any single physician. It is not unusual to bring a chaplain into the discussion to meet with the patient and family. While the chaplain is not officially part of the treatment team yet, at least there is recognition of the need for a chaplain in an effort to provide complete care for the overall well-being of the patient. I have a physician colleague who runs a Muslim prayer group for physicians and others in the medical school who want to gather weekly for prayer together.


While I have outlined some of the difficulties associated with being a scientist who is an Orthodox Christian, this discussion would not be fair if it did not also reflect the problems of the reverse situation—the difficulties associated with being a scientist in the church. Where should one begin when looking at this issue? Perhaps example is once again the best approach. Evolution is at the heart of biology. Theodosius Dobzhansky, an Orthodox Christian, the son of an Orthodox priest, and one of the most noted evolutionists of the twentieth century, is famous for saying that “nothing in biology makes sense without evolution,”7 which he expanded to say that there is no challenge to evolution as a model to explain life on earth. So I believe also. The concept of biological evolution is beautiful, and evidence to support it is overwhelming. Biological evolution is not an ideology, nor is it a dogma, but it is the central, all-encompassing hypothesis of how life functions and how it can be understood. One can understand the confusion, then, of hearing one’s parish priest give a sermon about the evils of evolution and how acceptance of


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evolution leads to an undermining of the spiritual life. His sermon is based on a false ideology, that evolution is about physicality and materiality and that accepting it must lead to denial of all else. There is indeed no earthly life without the physical and material, but that is all that biological evolution explains—acceptance of evolution does not come with a denial of the spiritual. This attack on science by some (quite a few) priests only embeds the contemporary church in combatant ignorance and shallowness. So that not only priests are blamed, I will mention also that I have argued with numerous Orthodox Church schoolteachers who not only do not accept evolution but teach against it in their classes, expressing their “churchy ideology” instead of teaching about Orthodox spirituality. It is no surprise that Orthodox college students are especially confused about evolution; the question about compatibility of Orthodoxy and biological evolution is one of the most frequently asked of me at Orthodox Campus Fellowship gatherings. Another example is one that has been difficult for the church because it involves the use of a prayer that has been in the Orthodox book of services for many years and is therefore “hard wired” into the system. Many parishes and parish priests continue to use a prayer concerning the miscarriage of a child that has been used for centuries but is inappropriate because it is inaccurate. Some Orthodox communities have chosen to reword the prayer or not use it at all, but the fact that it is used in some Orthodox parishes and is officially listed in the Trebnik (priests’ Book of Needs) of some Orthodox jurisdictions is of concern. This prayer blames the mother for the miscarriage, referring to the mother as having “fallen into manslaughter.”8 Early versions of the Slavonik Trebnik, from 1761 (the publisher is unknown, but the publication location appears to be Moscow), and another version from 1795 published in Vienna use the word “murder” for the death of the child in miscarriage.9 One can imagine at the times when these prayers were used in the eighteenth century that the understanding of miscarriage was very poor. There was very little understanding of how miscarriages occurred and whether in fact the mother played a role in it or not. In today’s world, however, this prayer is totally incorrect on a scientific basis. We now know that over 99 percent of miscarriages and stillbirths occur because the genetics of the embryo is not right and an aberration in the development of the embryo occurred

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that is incompatible with its continued growth and life in or outside the womb. The prayer as written assumes that the child could have been born except for some indeterminate failure of the mother that qualifies her as a murderer; this does not fit with today’s science and medicine, yet this prayer is still used in the church by many priests. It is very painful to know that even if a physician manages to explain to the mother that she is not at fault for miscarriage, in the church this bereaved woman will have to hear the prayers that blame her. The difficulty that many in the church have in changing prayers seems again related not to Orthodoxy but to an ideology of unchangeableness, an attitude that the ancient way is always best, that the church remains changeless over time. This is not only inaccurate and contrary to the tradition that started with church fathers, but also hurtful for the church as a whole, putting a higher priority on “being ancient” than on “being true.”


Despite the unwillingness of scientists to engage religion and the unreadiness of the church to engage everyday issues it is concerned with at the level of science, a huge number of questions currently at the sciencereligion interface demand attention. Should we permit the use of genetically modified crops as foodstuffs in the population? Is global climate change real? What medical technologies are appropriate, and which are not? Should drugs for Attention Deficit Disorder be permitted to enhance performance on exams? Should couples consider in vitro fertilization when they are facing a childless life together? Most of these questions are complex, and no single individual has the knowledge and breadth of experience to answer them. These issues require interaction among teams of scholars from different disciplines—scientists, theologians, pastors, and others. Some of this discussion is ongoing in the science-religion communities in different faith communities—one can find active science-religion dialogue in Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, and Jewish traditions. The goals of these faith-based groups are predominantly to serve as a study group to formulate an opinion or statement on controversial issues for the specific faith community. Some interfaith communities have


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also developed in academic environments to discuss science-religion topics. Most of these groups were formed through seminaries to discuss many topics in the pursuit of academic interest rather than in the interest of reaching a consensus on an issue. There is value to science-religion discussion for many reasons: the public and broad community are often made aware of all sides of the issue at hand; exchanging ideas leads to a better understanding of the question; through discussion, different disciplines become aware of their limitations and those of others. In general, Orthodox are not at the table in these discussions. Our seminaries have not established such science-religion focus groups, and in general, Orthodox have not developed study groups to analyze different aspects of a problem and make recommendations for the priesthood or the faithful. The result is that the Orthodox position is often not expressed (or even known), the faithful make decisions about in vitro fertilization and other, similar issues without the guidance of the church, and the Orthodox witness in a difficult world is diminished. One can argue that religious groups are not considered to a great extent when scientific questions are at stake, but this has not been the case in all situations. Many scientific policies were made only after serious ethical considerations, and faith communities are accepted as arbiters of societal ethics. Most recently, when religious groups opposed certain types of stem cell research, especially that involving embryos, the scientific community worked to develop new approaches to reduce or even eliminate the need for embryonic stem cells in this area of study. In this case religious views influenced not only legal aspects of what could be done medically but also the basic science that was being done by scientists in the laboratory.10 The development of some Orthodox presence in science-religion dialogue would not only facilitate the dialogue itself but would also give Orthodox scientists, at the margins of the broader scientific community, the opportunity to interface with other Orthodox. An Orthodox sciencereligion forum would allow the scientists to use their expertise, to interact with other Orthodox and other Orthodox scientists discussing the common problems. While scientists have many places where they can interact as scientists, particularly at meetings of their professional societies, there are few places where Orthodox scientists can meet as Orthodox and talk about common issues and perspectives. A few organizations have devel-

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oped over the years to permit at least some of this discussion. The Orthodox Christian Association of Medicine Psychology and Religion has existed for over twenty years now and has attempted to bring together physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, pastors, and theologians to discuss issues of mutual interest. This group meets annually with the goal of reviewing a different topic each year from medical, psychological, and pastoral perspectives. So far, topics have included care for the elderly, care during pregnancy, and others. The Greek Archdiocesan Advisory Committee for Science and Technology has been a loosely organized group that meets every three to five years and issues nonbinding position papers on various topics.11 These papers are usually the brain-child of a single scholar rather than the contributions of a group working in concert and are published in the open literature. Thus, there is great need and potential for developing study groups whose goal is to contribute something academic and yet relevant to the broad Orthodox community. The need for the science-religion dialogue is great not only for Orthodox scientists and academia but also for the pastoral care of the faithful. With time, technology is changing rapidly and drastically; medical technologies that were not available even two years ago are now employed in the clinic. It is hard even for the scientist to keep up on these discoveries, yet families are now faced with decisions about technology that they do not understand and for which most pastors cannot provide advice. Technology has increased the number of decision points in people’s lives. In the past, when a couple was childless, the question they faced was whether or not they should adopt. Today, the questions are much more complex: should we have in vitro fertilization to have a baby? If so, should we select for the offspring to have certain traits (or ensure the absence of certain diseases)? Should we consider a surrogate mother? If the couple decides to come to the church (and priest) to help them with these decisions, will the priest understand the nuances of the technologies, which ones might be acceptable ethically and which ones might not? One can go beyond beginning-of-life care and move into other challenges in health care: when is chemotherapy appropriate, when are enhancing drugs permitted to be used, are stem cell therapies appropriate for attempts to treat paralysis, and more. The priest working on his own in a parish cannot easily have insight in all such questions. In these types of situations, a parish team that includes scientists, health care professionals, and others


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could be brought together to help work through the nuances of the various procedures and weigh them from the ethical, theological, and health-care perspective.


In reality, the general prejudice that Orthodox scientists feel as believers in the broad scientific academic community is probably not much different than the stigma that believing scientists of any faith tradition feel. The problems that come with being a believer in an academic community (that is often openly antireligion) are commonly shared by all believers in that community. Nevertheless, the way in which individual scientists deal with specific issues can be very different and may revolve around one’s faith community. For example, most Orthodox scientists that I have known over the years have rarely struggled with conflicts over evolution or environment issues, problems that are commonly expressed among scientists that come from some Protestant groups. I do not believe that Orthodox Christians will be able to make big alterations in misperceptions of the scientific community by directly taking on these issues within the scientific community itself. The ideologies that are fixed in the scientific community must slowly melt away with experience and openness on both sides. Orthodox can help this by engaging in science-religion dialogue in a broad sense; truly Orthodox views are not opposed to science, and open expression of those perspectives can only help to lead scientists away from the false ideologies and into truthful perspectives. Therefore, the shortest path to eradicate the science-religion “war” for Orthodox is to change incorrect attitudes about science. Like scientists, we too sometimes succumb to peer pressure and ideologies that are often idolatries—worshiping “being ancient” over being truthful, jumping to judgment on issues based on what the political arena is expressing at the moment rather than weighing the issues honestly and with discernment. We need to use our discernment to come to balance on such matters—preserving the faith and truth without compromise and yet at the same time weighing modern issues without a “rush to judgment” and trying to view those issues as the church fathers would if they were living today.

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NOTES 1. J. H. Brooke, Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 42. “In its traditional forms, the conflict thesis has been largely discredited.” S. Shapin, The Scientific Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996). 2. The results of a Pew Research Center survey of scientists and the general public done in 2009 indicate that 33 percent of scientists believe in God, 18 percent believe in a higher power of some sort although not God, 41 percent don’t believe in either, and 7 percent refused to answer. David Masci, “Scientists and Belief,” Religion and Science in the United States, November 5, 2009, Pew Research Center, Washington, DC, http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05 /scientists-and-belief/. 3. Perhaps of most relevance here is the work of David Bentley Hart, an Orthodox scholar who has written several articles and books on the topic. See, for example, “Believe It or Not,” First Things, May 2010, or his book Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Ann Arbor, MI: Sheridan Books, 2009). 4. Francis Collins, The Language of God (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006); Ursula Goodenough, The Sacred Depth of Nature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). 5. For a more detailed discussion of the importance of humans-as-creators as an image of God-as-Creator, see G. E. Woloschak, “The Compatibility of the Principles of Biological Evolution with Eastern Orthodoxy,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 55 (2011): 209–31. 6. Masci, “Scientists and Belief.” 7. Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,” American Biology Teacher 35 (March 1973): 125–29, reprinted in Evolution versus Creationism, ed. J. Peter Zetterberg (Phoenix: ORYX Press, 1983), 18–24. Available online at http://www.2think.org/dobzhansky .shtml. 8. The prayer concerning miscarriage: O Master Lord our God, Who wast born of the holy Theotokos and Evervirgin Mary, and lay as a babe in the manger: According to Thy great mercy do Thou Thyself have mercy upon this Thy handmaid, who today lieth in sins, having fallen into manslaughter, casting out, willingly or unintentionally, that which was conceived within her; and forgive her transgressions, voluntary or involuntary. Preserve her from every snare of the devil, cleanse her defilement, and heal her pangs. Grant health and goodly strength to


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her body and soul, O Thou Who lovest mankind, and with a radiant angel keep her from every attack of the invisible demons, yea, O Lord, and from infirmity and weakness. Cleanse her of bodily defilement and from the divers disorders of the womb, which afflict her; and by Thy great mercy restore her in her humbled body, and raise her up from the bed whereon she lieth. For we have been born in sins and iniquities, and are all vile in Thy sight, O Lord; and with fear we cry out and say: Look down from heaven, and behold the infirmity of us who are condemned, and forgive this Thy handmaid N. who lieth in sins, having fallen into manslaughter willingly or unintentionally, casting off that which had been conceived within her. And according to Thy great mercy, in that Thou art the good God Who loveth mankind, have mercy and forgive those who found and touched her, for Thou alone hast the authority to remit sins and iniquities, through the supplications of Thy Mother and all the saints. For unto Thee is due all glory, honor and worship, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. (“Prayer for a Woman When She Hath Miscarried Her Child,” St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, http://www.orthodox .net/trebnic/prayer-for-a-woman-when-she-hath-miscarried-her-child.html, accessed December 1, 2013) This prayer is almost a word-for-word translation of the Slavonik Trebniks, published between 1761 and 1795, listed in endnote 9. 9. The Slavonik texts of both volumes of the Trebnik can be found at the website of the Library of Serbian “Matica” (Biblioteka Matice Srpske [BMS]), accessed April 12, 2014, http://digital.bms.rs/ebiblioteka/publications/index /string:trebnik/tags:all. The author thanks Dr. Tatjana Paunesku for her help in translating these texts. 10. This can be found by examining the papers that attempted to generate stem cells without using embryos. In many of these papers the authors have noted that the driving feature for their work is the need to overcome ethical problems with other approaches. Here are a few: B. Y. Hu et al., “Neural Differentiation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Follows Developmental Principles but with Variable Potency,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 107, no. 9 (2010): 4335–40; K. A. Jackson et al., “Regeneration of Ischemic Cardiac Muscle and Vascular Endothelium by Adult Stem Cells,” Journal of Clinical Investigation 107 (2001): 1–8; D. Orlic et al., “Bone Marrow Cells Regenerate Infarcted Myocardium,” Nature 410 (2001): 701–5. 11. Occasionally these papers are presented at the Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and are available for a short time as web presentations. In addition, a few are currently posted on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan website, http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/departments/ advisoryscience, accessed April 14, 2014.



S I N G I N G TH E L O R D’S S ON G I N A F O R E I G N LA N D Teaching Orthodox Liturgical Music in Non-Orthodox Contexts

A lexAnder l ingAs

Singing—generally called ecclesiastical psalmodia (“psalmody”) or, less often, asma (“song”) by Greek church fathers—has been ubiquitous in the public worship (Gk. leitourgia) of Eastern Christians since late antiquity, serving as a means both for the conveyance of sacred texts and to create what might be called “sonic icons” of the perpetual angelic liturgy. Integral to the liturgical experience of the faithful, the musical repertories and practices fostered historically within celebrations of the Byzantine rite constitute part of the lex orandi of Orthodox Christianity. Today, however, music from these traditions is experienced not only by millions of Orthodox and Greek Catholic faithful in worship, but also by the many non-Orthodox who attend concerts or purchase recordings variously categorized as “Classical Music,” “Sacred Music,” “Choral Music,” or “World Music.” 279


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There are obvious parallels between the status of Orthodox singing in the modern Western world and that of Eastern Christian iconography within the same cultural sphere, but also some important differences, particularly when one considers their relative positions in Western European and North American academia. In both cases what were originally liturgical arts indigenous to Orthodox Christianity have been adopted for a variety of purposes—some explicitly Christian, others generically “spiritual” or aesthetic—in the postmodern West.1 Yet over the past fifty years iconography has attained what might be described as a narrow yet relatively secure place within the field of art history, as well as in that of medieval studies broadly conceived. It has achieved and sustained this position in part because icons are of signal importance to Byzantine studies, as a browse through the publications and symposium programs of Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is sufficient to reveal.2 Academic teaching and scholarship relating to iconography are also nourished periodically by blockbuster exhibitions such as those held in recent years by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. When (and if ) music rooted in the worship of Eastern Christianity is introduced into the curricula of non-Orthodox institutions of tertiary education located outside Eastern Europe, its inclusion is usually justified through appeals to aesthetic, historical, or cultural criteria similar to those invoked for visual art. Among these are assertions of the importance of Eastern Christian precedents for the historical development of music in the Latin West and, less often, the perception of certain outstanding works as artistic masterpieces. Rachmaninoff ’s All-Night Vigil, opus 37, for example, has in recent years become a musical touchstone for the non-Orthodox comparable in its popularity to Andrei Rublev’s famous icon of the Holy Trinity.3 Running in parallel to the addition of some older Orthodox vocal works to the canon of Western art music (i.e, socalled classical music) during the last quarter of the twentieth century has been the emergence onto the world scene of composers writing vocal and instrumental works that draw in various ways on Orthodox traditions of music, liturgy, and spirituality, notable amongst whom are Arvo Pärt of Estonia, Sir John Tavener and Ivan Moody of Great Britain, Sophia Gubaidulina of Russia, and Christos Hatzis of Canada.

Singing the Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land


Despite these gains, the music of Eastern Christianity remains far more peripheral to Western academia than its other art, with a pitifully small number of scholars with permanent posts in Western European or North American universities currently publishing historical or ethnographic research on Orthodox liturgical singing. Several factors have contributed to its marginality. First, as we shall see, the academic study of music in Western Europe and North America has been governed by narratives that have, for reasons relating both to the state of the historical record and the ideological presuppositions of researchers, incorporated the repertories of Orthodox song only with difficulty. This contrasts markedly with the field of visual art, in which the visually apparent indebtedness of Western medieval artists to Byzantine prototypes has guaranteed the latter a place within historical surveys of the former.4 Indeed, the fact that icons are sonically mute images that may be (superficially) taken in at a glance suggests that oft-cited distinctions between the visual and musical arts may also be at work presenting methodological or epistemological obstacles for the uninitiated. Song is a dynamic art that must, if it is to be apprehended, be rendered afresh in sound (whether live or through a recording) and experienced through the medium of time. Examining icons is thus arguably a less invasive process than studying music, particularly when the latter requires listening to (or singing) culturally alien musical forms that set texts in languages that most students in Western Europe and North America are unlikely to know. Having noted that growing popular interest in Orthodox musical traditions in the contemporary non-Orthodox West has barely affected their place on the periphery of scholarly discourse, I shall devote the remainder of this chapter to examining in greater detail the current status of Eastern Christian music in secular Anglo-American academia. A brief introduction to major historical currents in Eastern Orthodox liturgical music will provide the background necessary to address the three main approaches to its mediation provided by existing disciplinary frameworks for the academic study of music in contemporary North America and Great Britain. The first approach treats the musically notated repertories of Orthodox psalmodia primarily as historical texts reflecting particular stages in the development of Western art music suitable for investigation using the philological, analytical, and hermeneutical tools of the field


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known in the United States as historical musicology, as well as (to a lesser extent) the tools of its younger sibling music theory (in the United Kingdom both may be identified together by the generic label of “musicology”).5 The second is related to ethnomusicology and shares with it a methodological breadth that may be seen in efforts to study Orthodox liturgical music variously as non-Western art music, oral tradition, or social practice. The third is concerned with musical practice, namely the application of skills in musical performance and composition to render or write music from or related to Eastern Christian traditions of singing. I will follow this disciplinary survey by offering some reflections on my experiences of studying, teaching, and performing Orthodox musical traditions on both sides of the Atlantic; these reflections will lead to general conclusions about the relative priority of scholarship and performance when one is seeking to share these traditions in non-Orthodox academic contexts. Before discussing the study of Eastern Christian music, however, I shall pause briefly to define the contents and historical scope of its traditions.


Liturgical singing in Eastern Christian churches since late antiquity has fostered the creation of vast repertories of psalmody and hymnody, with a legacy of over sixty thousand hymns in printed sources and many others awaiting discovery in unpublished manuscripts.6 The forms and uses of these repertories bear the marks of their origins in diverse geographic, cultural, and ritual circumstances: urban cathedrals and village parishes of the ancient Mediterranean, the imperial chapels of Byzantium and Russia, and monastic communities both small and great. These historical musical practices and repertories are the ancestors of the singing traditions attached to modern celebrations of the Byzantine rite, versions of which may be found today in Eastern Orthodox and Greek Catholic churches across a broad geographic arc stretching from Corsica to Russia, as well as in those other places where they have been transplanted through migration or missionary work.

Singing the Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land


Musical diversity within the Byzantine rite arose over time through processes of development, cultural exchange, and indigenization. The received traditions of Byzantine chanting native to regions that once belonged to the Ottoman sphere of political and cultural influence, for example, are monophonic—that is, strictly melodic, adorned only by an optional vocal drone (Gk. isokratēma)—and possess a system of eight musical modes (“octōēchos”) that partially overlaps with the modal systems of Ottoman and Arabic music (makamlar and maqāmāt, respectively).7 Also monophonic are some ritually conservative (Old Believer) or peripheral (notably Carpatho-Rusyn) forms of Slavonic chant, as well as the Albano-Greek traditions of Southern Italy. Liturgical chanting in the Banat region of Romania, Georgia, the Ionian Islands, and Serbia encompasses practices of extemporaneous singing in multiple parts, while in Russia and Ukraine notated forms of polyphony in genres akin to those of Western art music have been cultivated since the Baroque era.8 Whereas the texts sung in Eastern Christian worship have routinely been recorded in manuscripts or printed books, the transmission of their music has relied on various combinations of literate and oral means. The repertories and practices of living traditions in which music is learned almost exclusively by ear may be studied in detail with the aid of modern recording technology and ethnography, but specifically musical information about their forebears can be gleaned only from rubrics and other literary witnesses to liturgical singing. A great deal more, however, may be learned about the history of liturgical singing in Eastern Christian traditions possessing systems of musical notation. With the aid of these notations historical repertories of Orthodox liturgical music may be reconstructed with varying degrees of certainty—that is, to the extent allowed by the musical specificity of their notations and the availability of such complementary sources of information as treatises on music theory—for study, concert performance, or use in actual worship.9 The earliest systems of musical signs (“neumes”) employed in Eastern and Western Christendom preserve only cryptic reminders of orally transmitted music, but since the eleventh century these have been supplemented or superseded in some traditions by notations that are “diastematic,” conveying with precision the musical intervals from which horizontal (melodic) or vertical (chordal) structures are constructed.10


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Diastematic notations include Middle Byzantine Notation (the late eleventh-century successor to nondiastematic “Palaeo-Byzantine notations”), the reformed “New Method” of Byzantine neumes (in use since the early nineteenth century), Slavonic Znamenny neumes (diastematic forms appear c. 1600), and Western staff notation (in both its modern and older Kievan variants).11 Since the emergence of Middle Byzantine Notation, scribes and composers have employed Byzantine neumes for the composition of new hymns in standard forms, the invention of new musical genres, and the adaptation of entire repertories to new liturgical, linguistic, or cultural circumstances.12 Slavonic neumes served as vehicles for musical creativity in medieval Russia and Ukraine, after which the adoption of staff notation fostered traditions of polyphonic singing ranging from utilitarian harmonizations of musical formulas for the chanting of hymns to large-scale choral masterworks of Tchaikovsky, Kastalsky, and Rachmaninoff.13 Not coincidentally, it has been in those Eastern Christian traditions in which notation has been employed for centuries both to transmit and to renew their respective repertories of liturgical song that modern revivals of music and musical forms from the past have occurred. The work of Kastalsky and other composers of the “New Russian Choral School” of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was both facilitated and  complemented by liturgical and musicological scholarship conducted by their compatriots, including the liturgiologists Dmitrievsky, Mansvetov, and Skaballanovich and the musicologists Preobrazhenski, Razumovsky, and Smolensky.14 After a relatively fallow period lasting through the middle of the twentieth century, the revival of monasticism and the collapse of Communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the Balkans have been accompanied by a resurgence of Orthodox and Greek Catholic liturgical music. State, church, and private institutions in Russia, Finland, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, and Ukraine now sponsor research, teaching, and performance relating to Eastern Christian singing traditions in both ecclesiastical and secular venues. In these countries financial support for these programs may be justified as meeting the pastoral needs of state churches or as preserving national cultural patrimonies, rationales that are inapplicable to Orthodox sacred music in Western Europe and North America.

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Although music was integral to education in classical antiquity and later found a home in the medieval quadrivium as a speculative subject allied with mathematics, modern academic approaches to its study (“musicology”) emerged only during the nineteenth century. The subdiscipline of music history, or “historical musicology,” arose in parallel with processes shaping the formation of the modern canon of Western art music, among which was an unprecedented increase in concern for the notated music of the past (outside of churches, music more than a generation old had hitherto been rarely performed). In the light of Romantic aesthetics and notions of artistic genius, notated scores of compositions came to be perceived as representing musical works that were in some sense autonomous of their social, historical, and performative contexts.15 This prompted efforts to employ the tools of philology with the goal of establishing notated texts reflecting what researchers perceived to be the intentions of their creators, a quest for authenticity that found its grandest expression in editions of the complete notated musical legacies of particular composers or peoples.16 At the same time musicologists developed tools for analyzing musical form that could be deployed either at the level of the individual work or, with the aid of periodization schemes borrowed from other fields of humanistic study, across entire repertories to write historical (and often intensely teleological) narratives of stylistic development. Nascent musicology not only participated in the extension of nationalist agendas but also contributed to contemporary movements for the renewal of worship by facilitating the recovery for performance or imitation of old repertories deemed to be exemplary musical expressions of desirable forms of liturgical piety. The alliance we have already mentioned above between musicology, liturgiology, and composers of sacred choral music in prerevolutionary Russia was thus an Orthodox extension of this international trend, the archetypal Western expressions of which were the Lutheran revival of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, the promotion of Renaissance polyphony by the Caecilian Movement, and the “restoration” of medieval Gregorian chant by the monks of Solesmes (Pope


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Pius X eventually officially enshrined the last two phenomena in his motu proprio on liturgical music Tra le sollecitudini, of November 22, 1903).17 This turn towards the liturgical music of the past also helped to launch Western European research on liturgical singing in the Christian East during the late nineteenth century, a line of inquiry that seemed to offer the possibility of bridging the historical gap between the music of ancient Greece and the medieval Latin traditions of plainchant that were at that time being revived.18 In the case of Byzantine chant, palaeographical investigations of medieval manuscripts initially faced competition from attempts by Greek traditionalists and a few Western scholars such as Louis Albert BougaultDucoudray to locate survivals of ancient elements in received traditions of Greek ecclesiastical chanting and folk song.19 Musical philology eventually emerged victorious as the preferred method of inquiry, and in 1931 Carsten Høeg, Egon Wellesz, and H. J. W. Tillyard founded the Monumenta Musicae Byzantine in Copenhagen to spearhead what they hoped would be a restoration of medieval Byzantine chant comparable to that achieved for its Gregorian sibling by Solesmes.20 The efforts of Wellesz, Tillyard, and their younger American colleague Oliver Strunk in the field of Byzantine musicology did much to secure their reputations as leading musical scholars of their era as their research findings were enshrined in major reference works and textbooks, in which Byzantine chant was presented implicitly or explicitly as a historically important stepping stone on the path from classical antiquity to the establishment of a musical canon populated mainly by the works of Austrian and German composers.21 These overviews of the music of Byzantium in handbooks of Western music history rarely broached aesthetic matters and generally failed to convey the idea that Byzantine repertories might be musically interesting, let alone beautiful or inspiring. Given this notable lack of enthusiasm, it should not be surprising that Byzantine chant eventually fell from scholarly grace within the Western musicological establishment. This occurred gradually and without protest as the musical and methodological tastes of scholars changed, disciplinary shifts that were both chronicled and encouraged by Joseph Kerman in his influential 1985 overview of academic musicology.22 In this book Kerman promoted the value of “criticism”—essentially an

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engagement with hermeneutical questions—over and against what he judged to have been the addiction of “positivist” musicology to arid exercises in philological prowess pursued without regard for musical substance. To prove his point, Kerman pointed to the work on Byzantine chant undertaken by his teacher Strunk as a particularly pure example of such misdirected energy.23 Today North American undergraduates majoring in music are likely to learn of the existence of medieval Byzantine chant only if their obligatory survey of the history of Western art music uses a textbook that follows the mid-twentieth-century pattern of using the liturgical music of Byzantium to fill the chronological gap between antiquity and the appearance of notated manuscripts of Gregorian chant in the Carolingian Empire. Unless the lecturer supplies significant quantities of supplementary materials, references to Byzantine chant in current textbooks are likely to pass unnoticed due to the pitifully small quantity of information now supplied.24 Furthermore, in recent years there has been a growing tendency for surveys of Western art music, whether covering the entire chronological range of the tradition or only the Middle Ages, to start their narratives with Latin plainchant and omit anything more than a passing reference to the music of Byzantium.25 Orthodox sacred music is also exceedingly rare in most university classes examining music since the Renaissance. Analyses of Russian operas or symphonic works of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries may thus briefly note the presence of stylistic features derived from liturgical singing, while editors of historical anthologies of music for classroom study occasionally will include token choral settings of Slavonic liturgical texts written by composers active in Tsarist Moscow or St. Petersburg.26 It is only in treatments of the works of such contemporary composers as Sophia Gubaidulina, Arvo Pärt, and Sir John Tavener that Orthodox Christianity occasionally approaches the foreground of mainstream musicology in specialized studies of their music.27 In general surveys of recent Western art music their works containing sonic and textual references to Eastern Orthodox traditions tend to be located within the context of a (post)modern resurgence of attempts to reforge links between music and religion, other expressions of which may be found in the works of Roman Catholic composers Olivier Messiaen, Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Gorecki, and James Macmillan.28


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Ethnomusicology acquired its name only in the 1950s, and its current practitioners continue to debate its boundaries and methodologies.29 Its origins may be traced to nineteenth-century efforts to collect the repertories of two types of musical traditions falling outside the borders of European art music: those of so-called folk music that acquired significance in parallel with the rise of nationalist ideologies, and those of non-European peoples encountered through political or economic colonialism. By the early twentieth century, research in these two areas had coalesced into the overlapping disciplines of musical folklore studies and comparative musicology (vergleichende Musikwissenschaft), the practitioners of which collected—at first on paper through transcriptions of performances into staff notation and later, thanks to the advent of new technologies, on sound recordings—musical artifacts from home or abroad. These were pressed into the service of European high culture both as sources of aboriginal authenticity and as living fossils, reckoned as such in the light of teleological schemes placing contemporary Western classical music at their evolutionary summit. Curatorial approaches fell out of favour during the middle of the twentieth century as musical researchers working under the recently adopted label of ethnomusicology increasingly aligned themselves with the social sciences. Whereas some scholars began to write ethnographies closely modeled on those of contemporary anthropology, others led by Mantle Hood of UCLA sought to close gaps between internal (“emic”) and external (“etic”) understandings of (usually non-Western) musical traditions through the acquisition of “bi-musicality,” a form of participantobserver research in which an ethnomusicologist acquires performance skills from indigenous teachers.30 Over the past few decades ethnomusicology has followed postcolonial trends in scholarship by becoming increasingly self-reflective and engaged with questions of identity, representation, difference, and power. Having become concerned first and foremost with the holistic study of music—conceived of as both activity and sounding object, but often with greater emphasis on the former— in human culture, ethnomusicologists today are far less likely than their

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predecessors to limit themselves to studying repertories that somehow embody a notion of autochthonous purity. This conceptual shift has been marked by the proliferation of research on stylistically heterogeneous repertories, including the commercially lucrative ones of popular and world music. Western academic interest in living traditions of Eastern Christian singing has waxed and waned over the last two centuries. Two pioneering works of musical ethnography, the Geschichte des transalpinen Daciens of Franz Josef Sulzer (1727–90) and De l’état actual de l’art musical en Egypte by Guillaume Villoteau, the latter produced for the scholarly arm of the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt, contain extended discussions of post-Byzantine chant.31 Towards the end of the nineteenth century, as we have already noted, Bourgault-Ducoudray initiated a movement to recover elements of ancient Greek and early Christian music from received traditions of Greek liturgical chanting and folk music.32 Following the triumph of palaeography as the preferred method for seeking the origins of Christian song, research on received traditions of Byzantine chanting receded to the periphery of Western academia. Renewed interest in contemporary Greek Orthodox chanting was demonstrated by such researchers as Markos Dragoumis, Heinrich Husmann, and Samuel Baud-Bovy during the final third of the twentieth century, but this seems to have done little to alter the consensus among musical scholars that Byzantine chant was a particularly recondite branch of historical musicology.33 As interest in living traditions of Eastern Christian singing has continued to grow over the last few decades, coverage of them in English has been far from even or statistically representative due to various forms of disciplinary inertia. In the monumental Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, for example, the musical traditions of the Oriental Orthodox receive far better coverage than those of far more numerous Eastern Orthodox and Greek Catholic Christians, whose Byzantine and Slavonic repertories of chant and polyphonic choral singing are barely discussed. In this case one may safely assume that perceptions of boundaries between ethnomusicology and historical musicology once again play a role: whereas non-Chalcedonian churches have until modern times transmitted their musical repertories primarily by oral means, musical notation has been used for over a millennium in worship conducted according to the Byzantine rite.34


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Another reason why living traditions of Eastern Christian singing are poorly represented in Anglophone ethnomusicology is neatly captured by the old adage that “at least half of the battle is showing up.” Pioneering work on a musical culture may open doors for further research, but scholarly interest in a tradition tends to reach a self-sustaining level within ethnomusicology only if it has productive advocates disseminating information in prominent venues. If this occurs, a previously ignored musical culture may then be adopted as a quasi-canonical tradition within higher education, a status marked by its inclusion in introductory “culture of the week” textbooks and/or the institutionalized performance of its repertories in “ethnic” or “world music” ensembles.35 It is thanks to the efforts of two prominent scholars publishing in English, Kay Kaufman Shelemay (Harvard University) and Peter Jeffery (until recently of Princeton University, now at the University of Notre Dame), for example, that information about Ethiopian Orthodox Christian chant is now readily accessible from major academic presses in both specialized publications and a widely used introductory textbook, where it appears as the longest of three case studies—the other two being Tibetan Buddhist chant and the music of Santería—in a chapter entitled “Music of Worship and Belief.”36 A 2009 article on Orthodox singing in post-Soviet Estonia in the flagship journal Ethnomusicology and a 2011 book on the contemporary revival of Byzantine chanting on Mount Athos offer some hope that the study of Eastern Christian music might in the near future be cultivated more widely within the field of ethnomusicology.37 Interestingly, both of these publications draw attention to the negotiations of meaning and identity that occur in their respective communities at the intersection of living practice and historical memory, themes that have been profitably explored in recent studies of nonmusical aspects of Orthodoxy.38 At the same time their focus on questions of historical consciousness reflects the growing importance of history within the field ethnomusicology. Whereas some ethnomusicologists used to distinguish themselves proudly from historical musicologists by their espousal of synchronic (as opposed to diachronic) forms of study (this was proclaimed as an article of faith to me by my professor during the first meeting of an ethnomusicology seminar I attended as a postgraduate student), history is now integral to a significant percentage of contemporary ethnomusicological

Singing the Lord’s Song in a Foreign Land


research.39 When considered together with the simultaneous turn of historical musicology towards cultural and social issues, this shift of focus within ethnomusicology may be seen as contributing to a methodological convergence that is particularly well suited for the study of Byzantine and Slavonic Orthodox traditions of liturgical singing, in which it is ultimately impossible to separate the past from the present.


Most modern Anglophone institutions of higher learning that grant degrees in music require their undergraduates to receive at least some tuition in the applied musical arts of composition and performance. The latter may include both participation in university ensembles (choirs, orchestras, jazz groups, gamelans, and so on) and private or group study in voice or on an instrument. The amount of such tuition and the expected levels of achievement in composition and performance, as well as the opportunities to pursue them at postgraduate levels, vary widely depending on the nature of the institution and its range of options for specialization in musical study.40 The applied musical arts understandably dominate the curricula of conservatories, the primary purpose of which is to provide professional training for performers and (generally to a lesser extent) composers.41 They are less prominent in music departments that are structured mainly to foster the academic study of music as one of the humanities, a model of organization found in most older British universities offering degrees in music, as well in certain American research universities and undergraduate liberal arts colleges. Yet most of these traditional institutions will still teach composition, maintain performing ensembles (often open to students from outside the department), and offer private instrumental and vocal tuition. In North America one also finds colleges and universities with departments or schools of music that combine intense professional training and humanistic scholarship under a single roof. Students pursuing postgraduate degrees in musical performance at such institutions routinely share academic classes with research students, while


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candidates for a doctor of musical arts, the terminal degree for performers, are normally expected to complement their final recital(s) with a thesis or other extended research document (albeit one that is usually shorter than a PhD dissertation). Questions about the relative priority of applied and theoretical or historical approaches to music inevitably arise within educational institutions fostering both musical performance and scholarship. In these departments and schools the efforts of staff and students to promote what they perceive to be their own interests have a tendency, as Bruno Nettl has observed, to devolve into tribalistic rivalries between partisans of practical or academic approaches to music.42 Despite such difficulties and the fact that such marriages between creative practice and academic study are exceptional in tertiary education, open challenges to the status quo of combining musical scholarship and performance are surprisingly rare.43 Manifestations of Eastern Christian traditions among the applied musical arts in contemporary secular higher education consist mainly of performances of vocal music taken directly from or inspired by the liturgical repertories of the Orthodox Church. In this respect, the musical ensembles of non-Orthodox colleges and universities are mirroring the repertorial trends in professional and amateur performance that I mentioned in the introduction to this chapter. Thus most of the Orthodox music sung by collegiate choirs was written by Slavic composers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with outstanding examples being the first recordings of Rachmaninoff ’s Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, opus 31, and All-Night Vigil, opus 37, for their originally intended forces of men and boys by the choir of Kings College, Cambridge, under the direction of Stephen Cleobury.44 The dissemination of Slavic liturgical music among collegiate and university choirs has been greatly facilitated by the work of Musica Russica, a publishing house founded by Dr. Vladimir Morosan in 1987 that provides a sophisticated transliteration system into Latin characters and audio recordings of Slavonic liturgical texts for those unable to read the Cyrillic alphabet.45 Although it is difficult to obtain any precise statistics about historical trends in the performance of Orthodox liturgical music in secular universities, the publication this year of an anthology of Russian Sacred Music for Choirs by Oxford University Press and the same pub-

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lisher’s inclusion of Russian Orthodox selections in its European choral anthologies suggest that the level of interest in these repertories is now comparable to, if not greater than, that reached during the second quarter of the twentieth century when Slavic liturgical works (often with ridiculously periphrastic English translations) made their way into the catalogs of mainstream music publishers.46 In the field of contemporary music, today one finds regular performances in universities of works drawing upon Eastern Orthodox traditions by such internationally prominent living composers as Arvo Pärt and John Tavener.47 In addition, one occasionally finds secular universities effectively supporting particular members of their academic communities, both faculty and students, in their cultivation of Orthodox Christian musical traditions. Composers of liturgical or concert music drawing in various ways upon Eastern Christianity who now teach or in recent years have taught music in secular universities, for example, have included Christos Hatzis (University of Toronto), Kevin Lawrence (University of North Carolina School of the Arts), Peter Michaelides (University of Northern Iowa, emeritus), Nikola Resanović (University of Akron), Kurt Sander (Northern Kentucky University), Richard Toensing (University of Colorado, emeritus), and Tikey Zes (San Jose State University). From time to time one also finds student composers in secular institutions submitting vocal or instrumental works based on Eastern Christian music as theses to satisfy degree requirements.48


The preceding survey of the study, performance, and creation of Eastern Orthodox music in Anglophone higher education has generally confirmed the picture of marginality within academia that I had sketched in the introduction to this chapter. Although efforts to integrate medieval Byzantine chant into the grand narratives of the history of Western art music achieved a modicum of success during the middle of the twentieth century, the subject has almost entirely vanished from twenty-firstcentury textbooks of premodern music. In ethnomusicology today one


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finds signs of growing interest in the living musical traditions of Eastern Christianity, but their treatment in standard overviews of the field remain—with the notable exception of Ethiopian Christian chant— spotty at best. It is therefore in the realm of performance that the students and staff of colleges and universities in English-speaking countries are most likely to encounter music taken from or inspired by the worship of the Orthodox Church. In the general conclusions to this chapter I will discuss why it may be advantageous for university students to encounter this music through its performance. First, however, I thought it might be helpful to the reader to offer some brief reflections on the role that the performance of Orthodox sacred music has played in my own academic odyssey. My decision to switch the subject of my undergraduate degree from physics to music and Russian in the early 1980s was primarily motivated by experiences of singing in Orthodox worship, with a diocesan choir conference hosted in 1981 by my home parish of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon, being the pivotal event. This inspired me to immerse myself in the study and performance of liturgical music, first and foremost of the Orthodox Church in which I had been raised, but also of the Christian West, especially its traditions of plainchant and sacred polyphony. Performing in liturgical and concert settings has remained a fixture of my life ever since. In addition to singing in the churches where my family and I have worshiped, for the last two decades I have been artistic director of Cappella Romana, a vocal ensemble that I founded in 1991 while preparing for my doctoral comprehensive examinations. With my guidance and the generous support of its artists, staff, and patrons, the group has from its inception concentrated on presenting programs of Orthodox music to what have usually been predominantly non-Orthodox audiences. Initially this meant primarily the people who attended the ensemble’s annual seasons of concerts in the Pacific Northwest cities of Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, but the growth of its reputation has allowed Cappella Romana to extend beyond its regional base to reach new audiences through broadcasts, concert tours, and recordings. In so doing, the ensemble has been drawn regularly over the past decade into the orbits of non-Orthodox educational institutions, collaborating in various ways with universities, scholarly societies, and museums.49

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I have experienced much satisfaction at these incursions of my work as artistic director of Cappella Romana, because they have allowed me to align closely my aims and interests as a researcher, musician, scholar, and Orthodox Christian. At the same time, their relative rarity has reminded me that efforts to cultivate and disseminate the musical traditions of Eastern Christianity in Anglo-American academia are more likely to bring to mind the complaint of the psalmist: “How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?”50 Indeed, my transatlantic peregrinations have largely been a search to find environments within academia that are as hospitable as possible to the study and cultivation of Orthodox musical traditions, especially those of the Byzantine oikoumene. Encounters with musicologists from Eastern Europe periodically reinforce my sense of disciplinary isolation. Often not fully aware of the marginality of Orthodox musical traditions in Western Europe and North America, these colleagues frequently assume that my teaching has been closely aligned with my research in Byzantine chant. To their surprise, I have had to inform them that only once in my career have I been able to offer a module devoted entirely to my primary research area: an elective postgraduate survey of “Eastern Christian Music” that I presented to five students at Arizona State in the autumn of 2002. I have otherwise been obliged to supply the universities that have employed me on both sides of the Atlantic with instruction in the areas of Western art music that had dominated my undergraduate education at Portland State University and my postgraduate coursework at the University of British Columbia. Finding opportunities to work Orthodox musical traditions into my postdoctoral career as a lecturer in British and American universities has required both patience and ingenuity. When I was hired in 2001 by the Arizona State University School of Music as a specialist in Western European Early Music with subsidiary competencies in choral and Slavic music, one of my duties was to teach the first half of a historical survey required of all undergraduate music majors. Working under the constraints of having to go from ancient Greece to Johann Sebastian Bach in a single sixteen-week semester, I found time to devote a single lecture to medieval Byzantine chant and slightly more time to Christian antiquity and the writings of the church fathers than might otherwise be customary. At City, University of London (formerly City University London),


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on the other hand, I currently teach an analogous module entitled Investigating Western Music I: Western Art Music from 1500 to 1850, which includes only the briefest of references to Eastern Christianity due to its shorter chronological range and ten-week teaching schedule. These references have consisted of playing excerpts of John Tavener’s bilingual (Greek-English) and bimusical (Byzantine-English choral) setting of the vesper hymn Phos hilaron (O gentle light) in an introductory lecture on the idea of tradition in music, discussing citations by Luther and Calvin of patristic and ancient Greek writings on musical ethos, and noting when later authors on music revisit these foundational theological and philosophical ideas.51 Elective undergraduate and postgraduate classes have provided me with greater latitude to address musical aspects of Byzantine or Slavic Christianity. In some cases I have broadened the focus of modules formerly devoted exclusively to Western European music by incorporating complementary repertories from the Christian East, an approach that is broadly in line with contemporary efforts to broaden the canon of music taught in higher education.52 Operating under the banner of multiculturalism has enabled me to include substantive discussions of Byzantine chant in modules on medieval music that I have taught in Arizona and London, to address the modern reception of Orthodox traditions in a seminar entitled Music and Nationalism at Arizona State, and to treat in some depth both Russian liturgical music and the works of contemporary Orthodox composers when teaching a course entitled History of Choral Music that was obligatory for postgraduate choral conductors.53 In addition to supervising the occasional undergraduate or postgraduate dissertation on sacred music, I have been able to engage students at Oxford, Arizona State, and City with the academic study of Orthodox liturgical music in classes that have somehow overlapped in their methodologies or repertories with the domains of ethnomusicology. Modules devoted to Greek or Eastern Mediterranean musical traditions have allowed me address Byzantine chant as a phenomenon to be located culturally and musically within its social and historical contexts, an approach that often involves the comparative study of secular or non-Christian traditions. This has led me to situate living and historical forms of Orthodox liturgical singing within discourses of Ottomanism, Orientalism, Neo-

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Hellenism, modernization, globalization, and Mediterraneanism. In so doing, I have balanced discussions of theoretical issues with a modicum of listening and applied musicianship, including teaching students how to sing and transcribe into Western staff notation some simple chants in Byzantine neumes. Although, as noted above, I have remained active as a singer and conductor outside of academia, over twenty years elapsed between my directorship of a student early music ensemble at Portland State University in the later 1980s and the next time that I was invested with significant responsibilities as a teacher of performance. Late in the summer of 2007 the conductor of the chamber choir at City decided not to return, causing a void that was filled by my appointment to the post. I then served for eighteen months as director of the chamber choir, which had a fairly open admission policy and consisted of forty-one singers during my final semester as its leader, and served another year as director of Civitas, a more select fourteen-voice vocal chamber ensemble that I formed in response to student demand in 2010. With a fair amount of freedom to program according to my strengths and interests as a researcher and conductor, I was able to integrate a substantial amount of Orthodox sacred music into the repertories of the two ensembles even as I worked to satisfy other curricular imperatives.54 In a manner similar to but more extensive than my efforts to broaden the canon of Western art music in my academic classes, I embraced the music of the Christian East in thematically programmed concerts dedicated to Christmas and the Mother of God. My goal for each concert was to create a conceptually unified and musically coherent sequence of sacred works from the traditions of Eastern and Western Christianity.55 In the chamber choir program entitled “‘All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed’: One Thousand Years of Marian Music” (figure 1), for example, I juxtaposed the music of such canonical figures as Hildegard of Bingen, Josquin des Pres, and Johannes Brahms with settings likely to be unfamiliar to Western Europeans due either to the provenance of their composers or, as in the case of the Dogmatikon by Rimsky-Korsakov, their liturgical origins (see figure 1). On Remembrance Day (November 11) in 2008 I took the chamber choir deeper into the world of Orthodox music with a liturgical celebration of John Tavener’s Panikhida, followed, after a brief interval, by a short program of thematically complementary choral works.56

PROGRAMME I – Medieval Chant and Polyphony Gabriel, fram Heven King/Angelus ad virginem Anonymous (13th/14th c.) Trio: Martha Benyunes-Nockolds, Hannah Allchin-Kolyszka & Alexandra Rogers Ἀπεστάλη ἄγγελος (Sticheron for Annunciation) Kasia (9th c.) MS Ambrosianus A 139 sup. (early 14th c.), edited by Ioannis Arvanitis Alleluia: O Virga mediatrix St Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) Verse: Martha Benyunes-Nockolds Sainte Marie virgine

Solo tenor: Robert Walker

St Godric (c. 1069–1170)

Edi be thu, heven-queene Anonymous Hannah Allchin-Kolyszka & Celeste Cronje-Richardson Crist and Sainte Marie Angeli: Caroline O’Connor & Francesca Gash, Soror: Celeste Cronje-Richardson Ave Maria, virgo serena

St Godric

Josquin des Pres (c. 1450–1521) —Interval (20 Minutes)—

II – Choral Music of the 19th and 20th Centuries Достойно есть Dmitry Stepanovich Bortnyansky (1751–1825) (Megalynarion for the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom) Богородице Дево (Virgin Mother of God)

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971)

Всемирную славу (Dogmatikon, Mode 1)

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844–1908)

Τῇ ὑπερμάχῳ (Annunciation Kontakion)

Manolis Kalomiris (1883–1962)

Ἐξελέξατο Κύριος (Communion for Annunciation)

Tikey Zes (b. 1927)

From the Marienlieder, op. 22 Der Jäger (No. 4) Ruf zur Maria (No. 5)

Johannes Brahms (1833–97)

Totus tuus sum, Maria, op. 60

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (b. 1933)

Figure 1. City University London Chamber Choir Concert Programme: “‘All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed’: One Thousand Years of Marian Music,” given on April 10, 2008, at the Anglican Church of St. Clement, King Square, London.

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Since the singers for these programs possessed little or no previous experience of Eastern Orthodox music as either performers or listeners, I was not surprised to encounter some minor resistance from a few students who were skeptical about diverging from what they perceived to be standard choral repertoire. Evident mainly in the early stages of the rehearsal process, this resistance slowly dissipated as the groups surmounted the technical obstacles of singing in unfamiliar musical styles and languages (Greek and Slavonic), allowing their members to concentrate more on matters of ensemble and expression. Performances left the singers with a powerful sense of accomplishment, some of which was no doubt attributable to challenges successfully overcome, as well as the sonic and communal aspects of making music together. Yet no appeals on my part to the historical significance of particular pieces or the fashions of contemporary multiculturalism would have been sufficient to foster acceptance of this music had the performers and their listeners not ultimately found it to be attractive as they evidently did. The aesthetic and emotional reactions of student singers and their audiences to performances of Orthodox repertoire ranged from simple expressions of musical enjoyment to intimations of spiritual profundity, with the latter having been publicly noted by the Anglican priest of the hosting church one evening in his postconcert remarks.


The account of my efforts to study and cultivate Eastern Christian musical traditions in Anglo-American higher education generally corroborates the preceding sketch I made of the institutional landscape. The challenges I faced when seeking places to discuss Orthodox liturgical music in historical modules confirmed its peripheral status in North American and Western European musicology, although appeals to contemporary multiculturalism allowed me to compensate somewhat for the diminished stature of Byzantine chant in narratives of premodern Western art music.57 Recent trends in ethnomusicology, including a renewal of interest in the living musical traditions of Eastern Christianity, provided me with additional opportunities to teach material representing ethnographic and


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historiographic strands of my research. Notwithstanding my ingenuity at finding ways to work Orthodox music into my academic teaching, it was ultimately as director of two university vocal ensembles that I was able to immerse a relatively large number of students in significant quantities of Orthodox sacred music. The fact that students of music in Anglophone tertiary education are even able to encounter Eastern Christian musical traditions not only as objects of academic study but also as repertories to be performed is due to a feature of musical curricula that, as I noted above, is relatively unusual in academia, namely the partnering of humanistic scholarship and artistic practice. Balancing scholarship and practice is, of course, also a perpetual concern in theological education, where one today finds a range of solutions to their relative prioritization marked variously by the percentage of time in a degree programme allotted to academic study, the attention paid to the spiritual formation of individuals, the role (or lack of it) of corporate worship, and the extent to which “pastoral theology” is cultivated as an autonomous discipline.58 Orthodox Christians are guided in their own search for balance between intellectual and practical approaches to faith by the historical traditions of Byzantine theology, according to which, writes John Meyendorff, “the true theologian was the one who saw and experienced the content of his theology; and this experience was considered to belong not to the intellect alone (although the intellect was not excluded from its perception), but to the ‘eyes of the Spirit,’ which place the whole man—intellect, emotions, and even senses—in contact with divine existence.”59 John McGuckin describes this experience of the content of theology as “a vision of the highest beauty that begins in the processes of bodily orientation, forms of prayer, and even eating habits” and that is at the same time “very much a communal ecclesial affair.”60 Furthermore, notes McGuckin, the definitive ecclesial expression of this vision in Orthodox Christianity is to be found in the long and solemn services of its liturgy, during which “the body is as much involved as the mind” as texts with “high theological content” are embedded in a profusion of sights, smells, objects offered for touch, tastes, and sounds.61 Singing, as I noted at the beginning of this chapter, has arguably been the most significant sonic element contributing to the soundscape of worship throughout the long historical development of the Byzantine rite.

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Song has served the Orthodox Church for over a millennium as the primary vehicle for the aural transmission and exegesis (in the form of hymnography) of Holy Scripture. In the urban basilicas of late antiquity, antiphonal and responsorial psalmody expressed diversity within ecclesial unity through the hierarchically ordered participation in song of higher clergy, ordained singers, and congregations. Furthermore, such singing has provided Byzantine worship with what is essentially a form of sonic iconography that renders present through music the celestial harmonies of the perpetual angelic liturgy.62 One of the reasons why singing became such a prominent feature of Byzantine worship was its active promotion by such church fathers as Saints Basil and John Chrysostom, who maintained that the cultivation of melodious psalmody both inside and outside liturgical assemblies bestowed a host of didactic and ethical benefits. Basil, for example, writes the following in his Homily on Psalm 1: What did the Holy Spirit do when he saw that the human race was not led easily to virtue, and that due to our penchant for pleasure we gave little heed to an upright life? He mixed melody with doctrine so that inadvertently we would absorb the benefit of the words through gentleness and ease of hearing, just as clever physicians frequently smear the cup with honey when giving the fastidious some rather bitter medicine to drink. Thus he contrived for us these harmonious psalm tunes, so that those who are children in actual age as well as those who are young in behavior, while appearing only to sing would in reality be training their souls. For not one of these many indifferent people ever leaves church easily retaining in memory some maxim of either the Apostles or the Prophets, but they do sing the texts of the Psalms at home and circulate them in the marketplace.63 When reading such passages, it is important to recognize that patristic writers schooled in ancient science and philosophy believed that the ethical effects of musical habituation were not produced solely by the texts being sung. On the contrary, Basil makes clear in his Exhortation to Youths as to How They Shall Best Profit by the Writings of Pagan Authors that such purely sonic attributes as musical mode (harmonia) are sufficient to


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render particular tunes “wholesome or wicked.”64 It is this line of thinking that led had Plato and Aristotle to argue that training in the performance of particular kinds of music that they viewed as ethically beneficial should be integral to education. A number of these themes resurface in a recent book by James K. A. Smith exploring relationships between cultural formation, liturgy, and education.65 Acknowledging his debt to Alexander Schmemann (and his disagreements with him), Smith reflects on the ways in which cultural and educational formation in modern society employs essentially liturgical patterns of habituation. As he turns to discuss Christian worship in greater detail, without directly citing any church fathers he ends up restating a number of their positions regarding the functions of liturgical singing. Smith notes that “song gets absorbed into our imagination in a way that mere texts rarely do” even as the act of singing together manifests our “interdependence and intersubjectivity,” suggesting that it is perhaps through “hymns, songs, and choruses that the word of Christ ‘dwells in us richly’ and we are filled by the Holy Spirit.”66 He concludes his book by proposing that liturgical techniques of habituation should once again be consciously adopted by Christian education, which he maintains has, “for too long, been concerned with information rather than formation.”67 We should keep in mind these ancient and modern views on music, formation, and education when considering how the musical traditions of Eastern Christianity can be most effectively presented to the nonOrthodox in a contemporary university setting. For those without a vested confessional or ethnic interest in moving the disciplinary boundaries of Western musical scholarship, the usual justifications for including Orthodox music in the academic curriculum—demonstrating influence on the West, widening the historical or ethnographic canon in an era of multiculturalism, serving “heritage” constituencies, and so on—pale in comparison to the impact of live performances. Possibly scandalous to those with pietistic sensibilities, the potential for spiritual transformation that Orthodox liturgical music evidently retains for some of its performers and audiences in colleges and universities is, for reasons noted above, a phenomenon that many church fathers surely would have understood despite any qualms they might have had about its heterodox contexts. For

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this reason it is indeed fortunate that there is currently greater openness to Orthodox music in the applied musical arts, for if Eastern Christian music is ever to find secure bases of study in Western academia, it will surely be because enough people have learned to cherish its repertories by experiencing their beauty and affective power.

NOTES 1. At the Christian end of the spectrum one finds such transplantations of Orthodox forms into Anglican contexts as the writings on the devotional use of icons by Archbishop Rowan Williams or the settings of Orthodox hymns for Anglican choirs produced by Sir John Tavener during the 1980s and 1990s (i.e., before his turn towards Perennialism, after which he began producing works in which Orthodox music is often found rubbing shoulders with material drawn from Sufi or Hindu sources). An example of the aesthetic use of Byzantine chant is the recurrence of a recording of the short melody of the Lenten Alleluia in Mode Plagal 4 by the Maronite nun Soeur Marie Keyrouz in the 1992 FrenchCanadian film Léolo directed by Jean-Claude Lauzon, the eclectic soundtrack of which also features Spem in alium by Thomas Tallis performed by the Tallis Scholars, as well as songs by Tom Waits and the Rolling Stones. Somewhere in between are the many books and recordings of texts and music from Western Christendom published with Byzantine or Russian icons on their covers. 2. http://doaks.org. Back issues of its periodical, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, may be accessed through the JSTOR archive at http://www.jstor.org/action/ showPublication?journalCode=dumboakspape. 3. An indicator that Orthodox icons are still more popular than Orthodox music among the non-Orthodox is the fact Rachmaninoff, unlike Rublev, has yet to be given his own feast day by the Episcopal Church of the USA. Rublev is commemorated by American Episcopalians on January 29. Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints; Conforming to the General Convention 2009 (New York: Church Publishing, 2010), 7. 4. Recent scholarship has also extended the historical span within which Byzantine art is understood to have influenced Western medieval art to the later Middle Ages. See the chapters by Anne Derbes and Amy Neff (“Italy, the Mendicant Orders, and the Byzantine Sphere,” 449–87), Robert S. Nelson (“Byzantium and the Rebirth of Art and Learning in Italy and France,” 515–23), and Maryan W. Ainsworth (“‘À la façon grèce’: The Encounter of Northern Renaissance Artists with Byzantine Icons,” 545–55) in Byzantium: Faith and Power


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(1261–1557), ed. Helen C. Evans (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art / New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004). 5. Vincent Duckles and Jann Pasler, “Musicology I: The Nature of Musicology,” in Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press, accessed October 24, 2013, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/ article/grove/music/. 6. This number was derived by Kenneth Levy and Christian Troelsgård from the incipits in Enrica Follieri, Initia Hymnorum Ecclesiae Graecae, 6 vols. (Rome: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1960–66). See Levy and Troelsgård, “Byzantine Chant,” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Stanley Sadie and John Tyrell (London: Macmillan, 2001), 4:743. 7. Comparative studies situating received forms of Byzantine chanting among other musical traditions of the Eastern Mediterranean are Marios  D. Mavroidis, Οἱ μουσικοὶ τρόποι στὴν Ἀνατολικὴ Μεσόγειο: Ὁ βυζαντινὸς ἦχος, τὸ ἀραβικὸ μακάμ, τὸ τουρκικὸ μακάμ (Athens: Fagotto, 1999); Eugenia Popescu-Judetz and Adriana Ababi Şirli, Sources of 18th Century Music: Panayiotes Chalathzoglou [i.e., Chalatzoglou] and Kyrillos Marmarinos’ Comparative Treatises on Secular Music (Beşiktaş, İstanbul: Pan Yayıncılık, 2000); Ioannis Zannos, Ichos und Makam: Vergleichende Untersuchungen zum Tonsystem der griechischorthodoxen Kirchenmusik und der türkischen Kunstmusik (Bonn: Orpheus-Verlag GmbH, Verlag für systematische Musikwissenschaft GmbH, 1994). 8. For a historical overview of the most prominent traditions of singing in Chalcedonian churches of the Christian East, see Alexander Lingas, “Musica e liturgia nelle tradizioni ortodosse,” in Enciclopedia della musica 4: Storia della musica europea, ed. Jean Jacques Nattiez (Turin: Giulio Einaudi, 2004), 68–93. 9. Continued reliance on aural transmission for information not fully recorded in musical notation, the amount of which may differ according to time and place, places limits on the attainment of historical verisimilitude in reconstructions of premodern music. These limits and their relationship to ideologically charged notions of “authenticity” in the modern revival of Western European “Early Music” have been debated extensively by scholars and performers, the standard overview being Richard Taruskin, Text and Act: Essays on Music and Performance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). For an introduction to related issues surrounding the interpretation of historical repertories of Byzantine chant, see Alexander Lingas, “Performance Practice and the Politics of Transcribing Byzantine Chant,” Acta Musicae Byzantinae 6 (2003): 56–76. 10. Defunct Eastern Christian systems of nondiastematic neumes from the Middle Ages include the so-called Ekphonetic Notation of Byzantine lectionaries and the systems found in medieval Armenian and Georgian chantbooks. Ethiopian Christians today continue to employ nondiastematic notations in the train-

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ing of cantors. See Sysse Gudrun Engberg, “Greek Ekphonetic Notation: The Classical and the Pre-Classical Systems,” in Palaeobyzantine Notations II: Acta of the Congress held at Hernen Castle, The Netherlands, in October 1996, ed. Christian ˙ . A. Troelsgård and Gerda Wolfram (Hernen: Brediusstichting, 1999), 33–55; R At῾ayan, The Armenian Neume System of Notation, Caucasus World (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, 1999); Christian Hannick and Dali Dolidze, “Georgia: II; Orthodox Church Music,” Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press, accessed November 3, 2012; and Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Peter Jeffery, and Ingrid Monson, “Oral and Written Transmission in Ethiopian Christian Chant,” Early Music History 12 (1993): 55–117. 11. Constantin Floros, Introduction to Early Medieval Notation (with an Illustrated Chapter on Cheironomy by Neil K. Moran), trans. Neil K. Moran, enlarged, 2nd ed., Detroit Monographs in Musicology 45 (Warren, MI: Harmonie Park Press, 2005); Christian Troelsgård, Byzantine Neumes: A New Introduction to the Middle Byzantine Musical Notation, Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae Subsidia 9 (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 2010); and Dimitri Giannelos, La musique byzantine: Le chant ecclésiastique grec, sa notation et sa pratique actuelle (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1996). 12. Kenneth Levy, “Le ‘Tournant Décisif ’ dans l’histoire de la musique Byzantine, 1071–1261,” in XVe Congrès International d’études byzantines (Athens: Society of Biblical Literature, 1979), 1:473–80; and Alexander Lingas, “Tradition and Renewal in Greek Orthodox Psalmody,” in The Psalms in Community: Jewish and Christian Textual, Liturgical and Artistic Traditions, ed. Harold W. Attridge and Margot Elsbeth Fassler (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003), 341–56. 13. The simpler forms of harmonized singing in Russian churches have preserved many characteristics of an oral tradition, about which now see Jopi Harri, “St. Petersburg Court Chant and the Tradition of Eastern Slavic Church Singing” (PhD diss., University of Turku, 2011). 14. On this so-called Silver Age of Russian church singing, see Vladimir Morosan, Choral Performance in Pre-revolutionary Russia, repr., revised and corrected ed. (Madison, CT: Musica Russica, 1994), 205–307. The alliance between musicology and liturgiology in late Tsarist Russia is covered briefly in Johann von Gardner, Russian Church Singing, trans. Vladimir Morosan (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980), 1:16–18. Recent studies of liturgy in Western European languages with detailed treatments of prerevolutionary Russian liturgiology are Peter Galadza, “Liturgy and Life: The Appropriation of the ‘Personalization of Cult’ in East-Slavic Orthodox Liturgiology, 1869–1996,” Studia Liturgica 28 (1998): 210–31; and Job Getcha, Le typikon décrypté: Manuel de liturgie byzantine, vol. 18, Liturgie (Paris: Cerf, 2009).


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15. The literature on the ontological status of musical works and the history of their reification as such is vast. Important perspectives are offered by Carl Dahlhaus, Foundations of Music History, trans. J. Bradford Robinson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983); Lydia Goehr, The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007); Taruskin, Text and Act, 3–47; Leo Treitler, “History and the Ontology of the Musical Work,” Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 51, no. 3 (1993): 483–97; and the contributors to The Musical Work: Reality or Invention?, ed. Michael Talbot, Liverpool Music Symposium 1 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2000). 16. Vincent Duckles, “Musicology,” II.3, “Textual Scholarship,” in Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online; Sydney Robinson Charles et al., “Editions, historical,” I, “Overview,” in Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online. 17. For brief general treatments of trends in Protestant and Roman Catholic church music during the nineteenth century, see Joseph Dyer, “Roman Catholic Church Music,” V, “The 19th Century,” in Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online; Robin A. Leaver, “Lutheran Church Music,” 5, “Restoration and Conservation (1800–1914),” in Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online. Detailed studies of the three revivals are Celia Applegate, Bach in Berlin: Nation and Culture in Mendelssohn’s Revival of the St. Matthew Passion (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005); Katherine Bergeron, Decadent Enchantments: The Revival of Gregorian Chant at Solesmes, California Studies in 19th Century Music 10 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); James Garratt, Palestrina and the German Romantic Imagination: Interpreting Historicism in Nineteenth-Century Music, Musical Performance and Reception (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). 18. Egon Wellesz, A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), 11–23. 19. Notably L. A. Bourgault-Ducoudray, Études sur la musique ecclésiastique grecque: Mission musicale en Grèce et en Orient, janvier-mai 1875 (Paris: Hachette et Cie, 1877); and L. A. Bourgault-Ducoudray, ed., Conférence sur la modalité dans la musique grecque, vol. 2, Exposition universelle internationale de 1978 (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1879); about which see Samuel Baud-Bovy, “BourgaultDucoudray et la musique grecque ecclésiastique et profane,” Revue de Musicologie 68, no. 1/2 (1982): 153–63. 20. Lingas, “Performance Practice,” 59–61 and 69–73. 21. The two editions of the New Oxford History of Music included treatments of Eastern Christian chant in their volumes dedicated to the Middle Ages. See Egon Wellesz, “Music of the Eastern Churches,” in The New Oxford History of Music, vol. 2, Early Medieval Music up to 1300, ed. Dom Anselm Hughes

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(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1954), 14–52; Alfred J. Swan, “Russian Chant,” in ibid., 52–57; Miloš M. Velimirović, “Christian Chant in Syria, Armenia, Egypt, and Ethiopia” in New Oxford History of Music, rev. ed., vol. 2, The Early Middle Ages to 1300, ed. Richard L. Crocker and David Hiley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 3–25; and Velimirović, “Byzantine Chant,” in ibid., 26–66. One finds a similar proportion of space being allotted to these traditions in Gustave Reese, Music in the Middle Ages, with an Introduction on the Music of Ancient Times (New York: Norton, 1968). Donald Jay Grout, A History of Western Music, 3rd ed. (New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1980), the onevolume history textbook that I used as an undergraduate in the early 1980s, included several pages (13–15) surveying Byzantine chant as a stepping stone to its discussion of Gregorian chant. 22. Joseph Kerman, Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985). For a more recent assessment, see Nicholas Cook, Music: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 85–101. 23. Kerman, Contemplating Music, 44–45. 24. The decline in the perceived significance of Byzantine chant to the early history of Western art music is illustrated by its fate in successive editions of Grout’s A History of Western Music. Although the 4th edition (1988), revised by Claude Palisca, devotes as much space to the subject (28–28) as the 3rd edition, discussed above, in the 5th (1996) and 6th (2001) editions Palisca left only a single paragraph on Byzantine chant in the main narrative, supplemented now by a separate “Byzantine Music in Depth” excursus (21–22 in the 6th edition). In the 7th edition (2006), revised by Peter J. Burkholder, the main narrative includes two short paragraphs on medieval Byzantine chant (30–31), but the “Byzantine Music in Depth” section has disappeared. 25. Two general surveys of Western art music that discuss Christian antiquity but effectively skip over Byzantium in their narratives are Mark Evan Bonds, A History of Music in Western Culture, 2nd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2006) (Byzantine chant is not discussed, although there is a reference to the survival of the Eastern Roman Empire until 1453 on page 11 and a quotation from Saint Basil on page 29); and Craig M. Wright and Bryan R. Simms, Music in Western Civilization (Belmont, CA: Thomson Schirmer, 2006) (contains a single paragraph on page 15 covering the Coptic and Byzantine traditions). Several years after the Oxford University Press appeared to abandon its effort to complete a revised version of its New Oxford History of Music, it released Richard Taruskin, The Oxford History of Western Music, 6 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), which begins its main narrative with the Carolingians and


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includes only sporadic mentions of Byzantine chant, almost all of them occurring in discussions of Frankish borrowings from its repertories and modal theory. Also following this pattern of mentioning Byzantine chant primarily when it is necessary to explain Western European developments are Richard H. Hoppin, Medieval Music, 1st ed., Norton Introduction to Music History (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978); David Fenwick Wilson, Music of the Middle Ages: Style and Structure (New York: Schirmer Books, 1990); and Jeremy Yudkin, Music in Medieval Europe, Prentice-Hall History of Music Series (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1989). Finally, it is indicative that neither of the essays dealing with medieval music in a recent volume on the teaching of music history in American higher education mentions Byzantine chant: Patrick Macey, “Providing Context: Teaching Medieval and Renaissance Music,” in Teaching Music History, ed. Mary Natvig (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), 3–11; and Russell E. Murray Jr., “Creating Anthologies for the Middle Ages and Renaissance,” in ibid., 225–37. 26. The 6th edition (2001) of the Grout/Palisca A History of Western Music includes a brief mention of Dmitry Bortnyansky in a discussion of nineteenthcentury choral music. The 7th edition, revised by Burkholder, contains three references to postmedieval Orthodox Christian music: a subsection entitled “Church Music” has a two-sentence paragraph under the heading “Russian Orthodox Music” (654); a discussion of nationalism in music states that the Russian Easter Overture of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov “is nationalist, incorporating Russian Orthodox liturgical melodies” (744); and page 963 mentions the conversion of Sir John Tavener to Orthodoxy, noting that thereafter he began to incorporate “elements from its liturgical music.” Ray Robinson, ed., Choral Music: A Norton Historical Anthology (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978), includes two examples of Russian Orthodox liturgical music: a setting of the Polyeleos (opus 11, no. 5) by Pavel Chesnokov on pages 720–25 and the Cherubic Hymn No. 7 by Bortnyansky on pages 726–28. The commentary on the liturgical place of the Cherubic Hymn in the Byzantine is almost comically inaccurate: “The Cherubic Hymn holds the same relative place in the liturgy of the Graeco-Slavonic Church as the Agnus Dei serves in the Roman Catholic Mass: it is sung during the blessing of the elements in the Communion service. The slow opening section is repeated three times, once each time the priest elevates the chalice containing the water and the wine. At the conclusion of the third statement, the choir sings the Amen while the priest partakes of the elements” (1080). 27. For example, Paul Hillier, Arvo Pärt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); and the essays devoted to discussing the music of Michael Adamis, Moody, Pärt, and Tavener in Contemporary Music Review 12, no. 2 (1995): 49–54. 28. Richard Taruskin, “Closing the Spiritual Circle,” in The Oxford History of Western Music, vol. 5, Music in the Late Twentieth Century, Oxford University

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Press, accessed November 28, 2012, http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/; and, for a theological perspective, Jeremy Begbie, Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 18, 163–82. 29. Surveys of the history, disciplinary scope, and current theoretical concerns of ethnomusicology are Carole Pegg et al., “Ethnomusicology,” Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online; and Bruno Nettl, The Study of Ethnomusicology: Thirty-One Issues and Concepts, new ed. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2005). Past and present methodologies employed within the field are also discussed in Philip V. Bohlman, World Music: A Very Short Introduction, Very Short Introductions 65 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); and Henry Stobart, ed., The New (Ethno)musicologies, Europea 8 (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008). 30. A recent overview of the place of bi-musicality within ethnomusicological study is John Baily, “Ethnomusicology, Intermusability, and Performance Practice,” in Stobart, New (Ethno)musicologies, 117–34. For case studies and a retrospective interview with Mantle Hood, see Ted Solís, ed., Performing Ethnomusicology: Teaching and Representation in World Music Ensembles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004). 31. Franz Joseph Sulzer, Geschichte des transalpinischen Daciens, das ist: der Walachey, Moldau und Bessarabiens, im Zusammenhange der Geschichte des übrigen Daciens als ein Versuch einer allgemeinen dacischen Geschichte (Vienna: Rudolph Gräffer, 1782) 2:454–547; and Guillaume André Villoteau, De l’état actual de l’art musical en Egypte, ou Relation historique et descriptive des recherches et observations faites sur la musique en ce pays (Paris: Impr. impériale, 1812). See also Eustathios Makris, “Καταγραφὲς ἑλληνικῶν ἐκκλησιαστικὸν μελῶν ἀπὸ τὸν F. J. Sulzer” [Transcriptions by F. J. Sulzer of Greek Orthodox chants], Μουσικὸς Λόγος 5 (2003): 3–11; and Alexander Vovk, “A European in Egypt: Late Byzantino-Sinaitic Singing Tradition in Works by Guillaume-André Villoteau,” in Cantus Planus: Papers Read at the 12th Meeting of the IMS Study Group, Lillafüred/Hungary, 2004, Aug. 23–28, ed. László Dobszay (Budapest: Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2006), 907–15. 32. See note 19. 33. For example, Mark Ph. Dragoumis, “The Survival of Byzantine Chant in the Monophonic Music of the Modern Greek Church,” in Studies in Eastern Chant, ed. Miloš M. Velimirović (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), 9–36; Heinrich Husmann, “Interpretation und Ornamentierung in der nachbyzantinischen Musik,” Acta Musicologica 52 (1980): 101–21; and Samuel Baud-Bovy, “L’ornementation dans le chant de l’église grecque et la chanson populaire grecque moderne,” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 21 (1979): 281–93.


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34. The geographic spread of practitioners of Byzantine chant may also have contributed to its poor coverage in this ethnomusicological reference work, which divides Europe and the Middle East into separate volumes: Virginia Danielson, Scott Lloyd Marcus, and Dwight Reynolds, eds., The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. 6, The Middle East (New York: Routledge, 2002); and Timothy Rice, James Porter, and Chris Goertzen, eds., The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. 8, Europe (New York: Garland, 2000). 35. Simone Kruger, Experiencing Ethnomusicology: Teaching and Learning in European Universities (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009), 35–36. For reflections on the formation of canons in ethnomusicology, see Philip V. Bohlman, “Ethnomusicology’s Challenge to the Canon; the Canon’s Challenge to Ethnomusicology,” in Disciplining Music: Musicology and Its Canons, ed. Katherine Bergeron and Philip V. Bohlman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 116–36; Virginia Danielson, “The Canon of Ethnomusicology: Is There One?,” Notes 64, no. 2 (2007): 223–31. The status of world music ensembles in American universities is addressed in Solís, Performing Ethnomusicology. 36. Kay Kaufman Shelemay and Peter Jeffery, eds., Ethiopian Christian Liturgical Chant: An Anthology, 3 vols. (Madison, WI: A-R Editions, 1993); Shelemay, Jeffery, and Monson, “Oral and Written Transmission,” 55–117; and Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Soundscapes: Exploring Music in a Changing World (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006), 155–80. Elsewhere Jeffery has drawn attention to the full spectrum of living Eastern Christian musical traditions in a much-discussed book that revisits their potential for shedding light on the origins of Latin plainchant. Rather than seeing them as repositories of musical fossils to be plundered for medieval melodies or modes, he explores their potential as functioning systems of oral composition and transmission to shed light on the operation of the oral traditions undergirding the earliest notated sources of Roman chant. See Peter Jeffery, Re-envisioning Past Musical Cultures: Ethnomusicology in the Study of Gregorian Chant (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). 37. Jeffers Engelhardt, “Right Singing in Estonian Orthodox Christianity: A Study of Music, Theology and Religious Ideology,” Ethnomusicology 53, no. 1 (2009): 32–57; and Tore Tvarnø Lind, The Past Is Always Present: The Revival of the Byzantine Musical Tradition at Mount Athos, Europea: Ethnomusicologies and Modernities 13 (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011). 38. See, for example, Amy Slagle, The Eastern Church in the Spiritual Marketplace: American Conversions to Orthodox Christianity (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2011); and the essays collected in Victor Roudometof and Vasilios Makrides, eds., Orthodox Christianity in 21st Century Greece: The Role of Religion in Culture, Ethnicity, and Politics (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010).

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39. Philip Bohlman has been a particularly notable champion within ethnomusicology for engagement with history, especially for European communities past and present. See, for example, Philip V. Bohlman, The Music of European Nationalism: Cultural Identity and Modern History, ABC-CLIO World Music Series (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004); and Philip V. Bohlman, “Returning to the Ethomusicological Past,” in Shadows in the Field: New Perspectives for Fieldwork in Ethnomusicology, ed. Gregory F. Barz and Timothy J. Cooley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 246–70. A treatment of the recent methodological convergence with ethnomusicology told from the perspective of historical musicology is Nicholas Cook, “We Are All (Ethno)musicologists Now,” in Stobart, New (Ethno)musicologies, 48–70. 40. A general, historical, and international overview of music in tertiary education is Christopher Page et al., “Universities,” Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online. For the curricula of specializations recognized by the National Association of Schools of Music, the primary accrediting agency for music degrees in the United States, see NASM Handbook 2012–13 (Reston, VA: National Association of Schools of Music, 2013), http://nasm.arts-accredit.org/site/ docs/Handbook/NASM_HANDBOOK, 75–139. 41. An introduction to the history and curricula of conservatories is William Weber et al., “Conservatories,” Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online. 42. A perceptive and often amusing study of the educational ecosystem of a prototypical Midwestern American school of music is Bruno Nettl, Heartland Excursions: Ethnomusicological Reflections on Schools of Music, Music in American Life (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995), with relations between scholars and performers directly addressed on pages 55–59. For a Canadian perspective, see Murray Dineen, “Separation,” Intersections: Canadian Journal of Music / Intersections: Revue canadienne de musique 28, no. 2 (2008): 4–5. 43. Dineen, “Separation,” 3. 44. Released by EMI Classics in, respectively, 1999 and 2004. 45. The website of Musica Russica is found at http://www.musicarussica .com. In a private communication Dr. Morosan estimated that between 60 and 70 percent of Musica Russica’s sales are to colleges and universities. 46. Among the fifty-four titles of the choral anthology European Sacred Music, ed. John Rutter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), there are four Russian Orthodox liturgical items, each supplied with the original Slavonic and an English adaptation, with some of the latter more fanciful than others: one each by Arensky (Отче наш, 25–27), Glinka (Cherubic Hymn, 134–39), Rachmaninoff (Богородице дево, 278–80), and Tchaikovsky (Достойно есть, 333–36). The shorter collection of Christmas Motets from the same editor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) consists of sixteen titles, one of which is


Alexander Lingas

César Cui’s setting of the Magnificat (16–32) as normally sung at Orthros in the Byzantine rite with the original Slavonic and an English paraphrase in which “More honourable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim” is rendered as “Above all the cherubim, more glorious than the seraphim in the realm of light.” 47. The choirs of Oxford and Cambridge have been particularly active in this regard, not only performing but also commissioning (e.g., the Богородице дево of Pärt and the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis [Collegium Regale] by King’s College, Cambridge) and recording works by these two composers. 48. Two examples of settings of liturgical texts offered as doctoral composition theses are Chris John Granias, “The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom” (PhD diss., University of Minnesota, 1993); and Tikey A. Zes, “Concert Liturgy for the Greek Orthodox Church for Chorus and Orchestra” (DMA thesis, University of Southern California, 1969). The final project for my own undergraduate degree in composition at Portland State University was a choral setting of Great Vespers. 49. Non-Orthodox institutions of higher learning that have hosted Cappella Romana concerts or educational presentations over the last ten years have included Brown University, City University London, Dumbarton Oaks, Kings College of the University of London, Princeton University, Queen’s University Belfast, Stanford University (with participation in its Icons of Sound research project), the University of Limerick, the University of Oregon, the University of Oxford, and Whitman College. The group has also presented events associated with exhibitions at the Getty Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Royal Academy of Arts, and the Smithsonian Institution. 50. Ps. 137:4 (136:4 LXX), trans. Archimandrite Ephrem Lash, http:// www.anastasis.org.uk/mat-sun.htm. 51. The resonance through the centuries of classical Greek and late antique views on the cosmological significance of music is a rich topic for scholarly exploration. See, for example, Marjorie Roth, “The ‘Why’ of Music: Variations on a Cosmic Theme,” in Teaching Music History, ed. Mary Natvig (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2002), 69; “Music and God’s Cosmic Order: The Great Tradition,” in Begbie, Resounding Truth, 77–94; John Hollander, The Untuning of the Sky: Ideas of Music in English Poetry, 1500–1700 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1970); Catherine Pickstock, “MUSIC Soul, City and Cosmos after Augustine,” in Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology, ed. John Milbank, Graham Ward, and Catherine Pickstock (London: Routledge, 1999), 243–68; and Gary Tomlinson, Metaphysical Song: An Essay on Opera, Princeton Studies in Opera (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).

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52. Bruno Nettl likens the structure of the musical canon taught in American higher education to concentric circles formed around “classical Western music (almost exclusively European music) composed roughly between 1720 and 1930.” Heartland Excursions, 84. Problems related to the integration and mediation of music from outside the Western art canon within university curricula are addressed in Ralph P. Locke, “What Chopin (and Mozart and Others) Heard: Folk, Popular, ‘Functional,’ and Non-Western Music in the Classic/ Romantic Survey Course,” in Natvig, Teaching Music History, 25–42; and Nettl, Heartland Excursions, 82–111. 53. Prior to my arrival at Arizona State, with the encouragement of the editor I had pursued a similar strategy of treating the Christian West and East in a holistic manner when writing or revising articles on sacred music and liturgy for Alison Latham, ed., The Oxford Companion to Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). 54. I needed, for example, to prepare the chamber choir for choralorchestral works ultimately performed under the direction of another conductor. As director of Civitas I programmed a concert of sacred and secular works by Claudio Monteverdi to complement what students were learning in an academic module entitled “The Age of Monteverdi” that I was teaching during the same term. 55. It is worth noting that when programming concerts, I have found it necessary to approach the “hit-parade” of sentimental favorites among Eastern Christians with extreme caution. It has been my experience that unless a piece of Orthodox liturgical music is crafted in its Platonic totality of harmonia, rhythmos, and logos with sufficient rigor to bear comparison with works from the mainstream of Western art music, it may be apprehended by the uninitiated as somehow trite. Another principle of concert programming that applies equally to the Christian liturgical music of the West and East is that some settings that might be perfectly matched to their function in worship may not transfer well to the quasi-contemplative world of classical music concerts. 56. O quam gloriosum by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611); the kontakion Μετὰ τῶν ἁγίων by Theodore Bogdanos (b. 1932); a setting of the Kyrie of the Roman mass by Huw Catchpole-Davies, a student and member of the ensemble; Justorum animae (op. 38, no. 1) by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852– 1924); the Song of St. Symeon by Fr. Sergei Glagolev (b. 1927); and two antiphons from the Roman burial service, “In paradisum” and “Chorus angelorum.” 57. A situation no doubt exacerbated by the gradual retreat since the 1960s of medieval and Renaissance music in the postgraduate curricula of many music departments. On the dropping of required courses in early Western notations as (allegedly) “a first step in the liberation of musicology,” see Kerman, Contemplating Music, 40–46.


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58. Along these lines, Dineen, “Separation,” notes that it was the administrative division of “religious and pastoral studies” that had prompted his own musings on the desirability of separating musical scholarship and performance (3). For an Orthodox Christian perspective on this split, see John Behr, “What Are We Doing, Talking about God? The Discipline of Theology,” in Thinking through Faith: New Perspectives from Orthodox Christian Scholars, ed. Aristotle Papanikolaou and Elizabeth H. Prodromou (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2008), 78–86. 59. John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, 2nd, rev. ed. (New York: Fordham University Press, 1987), 9. The early Christian roots and modern application of this view are explored in Behr, “What Are We Doing?,” 67–86. 60. John Anthony McGuckin, Standing in God’s Holy Fire: The Byzantine Tradition, Traditions of Christian Spirituality Series (London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2001), 34 and 152. 61. Ibid., 132. 62. Alexander Lingas, “From Earth to Heaven: The Changing Soundscape of Byzantine Liturgy,” in Experiencing Byzantium: Papers from the 44th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Newcastle and Durham, April 2011, ed. C. Nesbitt and M. Jackson (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013), 311–58. 63. Basil of Caesarea, Homily on Psalm 1 (PG 39:212), in Music in Early Christian Literature, ed. and trans. James W. McKinnon, Cambridge Readings in the Literature of Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 65. For a detailed exposition of patristic thought on the didactic and ethical benefits of liturgical song, see Athanasios Theod. Vourles, Δογματικοηθικαὶ ὄψεις τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου ψαλμῳδίας (Athens: Πανεπιστήμιον Ἀθηνῶν, Θεολογικὴ Σχολή, 1994); and, in brief, Athanasios Theod. Vourles, Ἡ ἱερὰ ψαλμῳδία ὡς μέσον ἀγωγῆς (Ἠθικομουσικολογικὴ μελέτη) (Athens: [n.p.], 1995). 64. Basil of Caesarea, Exhortation to Youths as to How They Shall Best Profit by the Writings of Pagan Authors (PG 31:581–84), trans. in McKinnon, Music in Early Christian Literature, 69. 65. James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, vol. 1 of Cultural Liturgies (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009). 66. Ibid., 170. 67. Ibid., 219.



I N TH E WO R L D , FOR T HE L I F E O F TH E WO RLD Personal Reflections on Being a Professor and Priest in a Public University

M ichAel P lekon


I am an attached priest at St. Gregory the Theologian Church, a parish of the Orthodox Church in America in Wappingers Falls, New York. Whatever terminology you use, I am “bivocational” or a “worker priest,” since I have secular employment alongside priestly service. My “day job” has been an important source of financial support for my family, but more importantly, it is what I was trained for and is my primary location for Christian vocation and ministry. I have spent all of my professional life teaching in the same school. Since September 1, 1977, I have been a full-time faculty member at Baruch College of the City University of New York. Baruch is rated by US News & World Report, Forbes, and the Princeton Review as a leading public institution of business and humanities education, with both undergraduate and graduate programs. It is also the most diverse school 315


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in America. At last count there were 117 language groups represented among over 17,000 students and faculty.1 While a public and distinctively secular institution, CUNY in general and Baruch in particular are home to thousands of persons of faith—both faculty and students. In my time I have been but one of several clergy—priests, pastors, and rabbis—at Baruch. The etiquette has always been that religious clerical garb is not worn, though the kippah or skullcap of observant Jews, the hijab of Muslim women, and crosses of various sizes are routinely seen. On my page in the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, I appear both in secular and in clerical dress, though the unsuspecting eye might not catch this, and I identify myself as a priest in the OCA.2 Following the custom at CUNY I do not wear any clerical clothing on campus. In my office a few icons are visible, and occasionally I am approached by students for pastoral conversation. Yet for the most part I am “Professor Plekon.” My published work indicates scholarly interest in theologians, contemporary persons of faith, and the many issues of holiness in the twentyfirst century. One of my books profiled ten Eastern Church Christians— Living Icons—and I completed two others in a trilogy on holiness in our time: Hidden Holiness and Saints as They Really Are.3 With Peter Berger as my mentor/teacher, my research has focused on the intersection of a religious tradition—its religious thinkers and social critics—with political, social, and economic life across the nineteenth, twentieth, and now twenty-first centuries. I have published on Kierkegaard’s social criticism, rooted in his theological thinking and his ongoing polemics with the Church of Denmark. And I have written about a long list of twenteith-century figures, some of them Russian in origin and Orthodox Christian, but from many other backgrounds as well. These I called “living icons,” women and men of faith who encountered the modern world in all its complexity not condemning it but seeking out the best in it. To the likes of Sergius Bulgakov, Nicholas Afanasiev, George Fedotov, Paul Evdokimov, Maria Skobtsova, Lev Gillet, Alexander Men, John Meyendorff, and Alexander Schmemann, I have added Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Etty Hillesum, Simone Weil, and lay theologian Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, among others.4 They are Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Christian, as well as agnostic. I have looked at social criticism, but more at the search for God and the struggle to live a life of holiness in

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their work. It is clear that my years of teaching in a public, diverse university have led me to look at a diverse range of religious writers, some from my own particular tradition as well as from others. A word about Orthodox Christianity in the landscape of American institutions of higher learning is necessary here. I myself have published extensively with the University of Notre Dame Press and have also been involved with other Eastern Church publications there as editor, translator, reader, or promoter. Notre Dame’s theology department has celebrated the liturgy and theology of the Eastern Church, and other institutions such as Fordham and Loyola-Marymount have research institutes for Orthodox scholarship.5 Orthodox scholars have participated over the years in the teaching and research, the conferences and publications, of the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada. In their time, renowned Orthodox theologians Alexander Schmemann and John Meyendorff were adjunct faculty members at Fordham and Columbia Universities. The members of my department all know that I am an Orthodox priest. Occasionally I receive theological or pastoral questions from them. While my principal appointment is in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, I am the coordinator and an instructor in the Program in Religion and Culture, a small interdisciplinary collection of faculty with training and interest in religious studies. We offer the usual comparative world religions course standard to all programs in the religion field, but each of us offers our own specializations, as we are able, given other departmental demands. I regularly offer, in rotation, an overview of the history of the Christian tradition, a survey course in the New Testament, and a course in contemporary Christian writers, thinkers, and holy people.6 The description of the program also stresses an urgent contemporary rationale, namely, making available reliable, accurate information about religious tradition in the face of rising misinformation and prejudice. Students from a number of traditions, not just Muslims, experienced public hostility and threats on their way to school after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center towers. There are a number of student groups of both ethnic and religious backgrounds that meet regularly. The speakers and presentations are often explicitly confessional, and occasionally both proselytizing and devoid of historical and social scientific content.


Michael Plekon

Whether it is the comparative world religions course, the survey on the Christian tradition, the course on religion in American history and society, or contemporary Christian figures and writings, the aim in our program’s courses is always to communicate reliable accounts of the history, teaching, worship, ethics, and leading figures of particular religious traditions. To illustrate: an internationally renowned historian regularly offers a course on the historical understanding of the prophet Muhammad. Another program member, an anthropologist, offers a look at Hindu and Sufi “ecumenical” worship at saints’ shrines in North India, subjects of her fieldwork. Yet another anthropologist, a specialist in American Chinese communities, looks at religion in New York City’s Chinatown as well as other faith communities in the city in courses. A political scientist teaches about the ways in which religion influences and is used by political parties and candidates. There is a course investigating the literature produced by victims of the Holocaust. I helped develop a new course on writers and their search for God, including Annie Dillard, Mary Karr, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Patricia Hampl, among others. In this work, I understand myself as engaging in one of the ministries I perform as an Orthodox Christian—offering students a serious but ecumenically sensitive look at the religious traditions found not only in New York City but across the country. Students can be either woefully ignorant of traditions other than their own or, sadly, lacking in respect or understanding towards persons of other faiths. As in many departments of religious studies in colleges and universities, the approach in our program is not partisan and relies on primary sources and the most accurate accounts accepted by the most scholars. We examine Glenn Beck’s use of religion (and bashing of the traditions he does not like); the explicit Christianity of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches; or Abraham Joshua Heschel’s fidelity to Judaism. We read the social criticism of an Orthodox saint, Mother Maria Skobtsova; a Catholic monk and writer, Thomas Merton; or Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.7 The editorial columns and essays of Dorothy Day both criticize American politics and the church and put forward the rationale for Christian outreach to those in need. Dorothy Day, Mother Maria Skobtsova, and Merton, among others, offer prophetic protest against war, racism, and poverty.

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Stephen Prothero recently charged that diverse, conflicting religious traditions are being homogenized into a unified world religious syncretism. Yet when students inspect the divergent interpretations of time, human suffering, ascetic practices, what lies after death, and the nature of the human individual, it becomes clear from the start that there are many paths and views, and they do not all lead to the same destination or see human realities in the same way.8 But to be able to thoughtfully examine a tradition other than one’s own or one about which one is ignorant inculcates, as we in the program believe, respect for differences and the traditions of others, not to mention those who are other than ourselves. There is empirical experience of this in the diversity at Baruch.


The context in which I teach and research may appear secular, but on closer inspection it is religiously rich and diverse. In all of these publication projects and courses, there are numerous opportunities for ministry. I have already discussed my scholarship, and I see this as an important facet of my ministry. Through books, articles, papers presented, and retreats I have presented numerous women and men of faith in the Eastern Church—their lives, their writings, their witness. In these works, I address the distinctive history of the Eastern Orthodox churches, their saints and liturgies, their history and literature. Teaching is the most basic and essential activity in a university context. This means providing information on the tradition, the Christian scriptures, worship, and history to students from many non-Christian backgrounds or from no religious background at all. The discussions are fascinating when Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Hindu students, and those of no religious belonging go through passages from the Gospel of John or respond to the rule of Benedict, or to the lives and writings of Maria Skobtsova, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton. Difficult questions of course arise: about the role of Christians in the Holocaust and early persecution of the Jewish people, about the bloodshed of the Crusades against both Jews and Muslims, about the killing of


Michael Plekon

Christians by other Christians during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in England, France, and elsewhere. We examine anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic bigotry and harassment that were parts of American history. The radical decision to separate church and state in the fledging American republic with great religious freedom mandated and toleration legislatively protected, the enormous energy of American religious groups, the reality of America as the birthplace and seedbed of more religious movements and communities in the modern era than any other country— these are but a few of a host of issues from the past that resonate strongly with the present. We do not avoid destructive, hateful sides of religion; we also examine the liberating, creative aspects. Religious justifications for slavery must be countered with the religious motivation of the abolitionist movement. Religious intolerance in the past has not disappeared in the present, when Muslims are regarded as threats to security regardless of their political views. The academic norms for teaching about religious traditions, especially in a public, secular, and diverse setting, require that one not proselytize, that fairness in the handling of texts and figures and issues be sacrosanct. It constantly amazes me that students coming from very different religious traditions or none at all find much to reflect upon, applaud, and celebrate, as well as sometimes criticize and attack, in the Christian tradition. Truth and respect for the traditions permit a free, often incisive examination of the words of Christ about turning the other cheek, about loving the enemy, about seeing God in every hungry or homeless face. I believe that I also exercise a ministry of presence or witness to Christian faith as well, one that is respectful, open, ecumenical. In this manner of being, I follow the example of Father Boris Bobrinskoy. Recently retired after decades of teaching at St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris and serving as dean, he noted that he always introduced himself as a Christian, period. That he was a priest, a professor of theology, dean of a theological school, and a member of the Orthodox Church was all secondary to the identification of “Christian.” For him, it meant first, love for Christ, commitment to proclaiming and living out the gospel, as well as respect for all other Christians and people of all other faiths. His good friend, someone I was privileged to know, Orthodox Christian theologian

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Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, said that how we treated others in our profession and neighborhoods and how we reacted to torture and brutality on the world scene said more about what we believed and who we were than any religious words could. On the first day of each of my courses, we go around the room introducing ourselves, and I tell the students about myself. I show them the cross that is on the cord that bears my identification/security card from the college. I talk about my research and writing. I direct them to my parish website, where many photos tell about our fellowship and liturgy. In every course in the program, I explain that I am myself a member of the Christian tradition, that I can speak about it “from inside,” but do so with care for the facts. There are ugly, terrible moments, and these too must be examined. Likewise there are real moments of light and goodness, people who stood up for others, such as Mother Maria Skobtsova and her companions who were imprisoned and dying for the effort to protect and save people from a destructive regime. This is usually the first time students have heard of this modern Orthodox Christian saint and her companions.9 In my classes, the student makeup provides for fascinating and engaged conversation. There are often devout students from an array of backgrounds. They tell me that the courses opened up the traditions of faith to them, that they experienced the course as a place where real learning as well as debate could take place. Some ask to talk about personal issues, share family concerns, raise questions that have bothered them. Of the students who were raised Christian, I would say at least some have stopped going to church, and for reasons that they can make explicit. Methodists, Pentecostals, Catholics, a few Caribbean Anglicans, and a few Orthodox form the largest church background. Their reasons for no longer attending church include complaints about lifeless, empty preaching and liturgical celebrations, harsh moralistic stances, family pressures to conform, and the conviction that religion had little to do with life. Orthodox Christian students said they could not understand the Greek or Slavonic in church at all and knew little of what was going on. Of the students I have from Orthodox Christian backgrounds in my classes, a few were born here, but most are from abroad. Whether Russian, Romanian, Cypriot, or Ukrainian, many know little about their


Michael Plekon

faith. They rarely go to church save for Easter, funerals, and weddings, if at all. Some say that their families were afraid to practice their faith under Soviet domination, and thus they had no experience of a lived faith. Some want to go to church and will ask me for the location of “American” Orthodox parishes. I refer them to parishes, although there are challenges to this. Location is one, as very few students live in the neighborhood of Baruch or even in Manhattan. Another is the issue of hospitality: sadly, there are few Orthodox parishes that openly welcome visitors. Anecdotally, I know this lack of hospitality has been true for students across the country. Young people from my own parish of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) tell me that when they seek out an Orthodox parish in the city or town where they are attending university, they are often not welcomed. Some have been told they need a letter of attestation from their home rector to even go to confession, which is a requisite to receiving communion. Others are told they are from the “wrong” church, or a church not recognized, namely the OCA, or they do not have the right name or appearance for this particular ethnic community. In the experience of my own now-adult children, it is the disunity and fragmentation of the Orthodox churches in the United States that lie beneath this lack of hospitality. My parishioners who relocate sometimes experience this, with the issues of youth and student identity not in play. We are our own worst enemies much of the time when it comes to hospitality to other orthodox Christians as well as Christians of other churches and people of other traditions of faith. I would say that welcome of the stranger, the visitor, the guest—the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah to the three heavenly guests under the oak tree at Mamre, of the tax collector Zacchaeus, of the two travelers to Emmaus to their traveling companion, the risen Jesus—this generosity which so marks not only the cultures of the Middle East through the scriptures but also the early Christian communities is something we must recover at every level: not only myself as a Christian in the professorial ranks but every member of every parish. Closely connected with hospitality is another quality I strive for and believe we must inculcate: that of openness—something very typical of the “Paris School” of émigré Russian Orthodox theologians I have been writing about for years now, scholars associated with St. Sergius Institute in Paris. Paul Evdokimov started writing and lecturing in the language of

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his adopted France as soon as he was able. Nicholas Afanasiev started turning his articles into French, with help from his students. Sergius Bulgakov lectured both in the United Kingdom and here in America in English, and all of his essays for study and debate in the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius were translated and published in English. This was also the case, as soon as he they were able, for Alexander Schmemann, John Meyendorff, and Georges Florovsky when they came to the United States to teach at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Schmemann loved his adopted country, the United States, even though he remained devoted to Russian literature. He was critical of various social aspects of middle-class parish life here in America in the late 1950s and 1960s, but he also embraced the American incarnation of the parish as a real community, not a collection of individuals fulfilling religious needs and obligations. His vision of Orthodox Christianity never condemned other Christians and churches. In his sense of the future of Orthodox Christianity in North America, he had learned some hard lessons from the conflict and vicious attacks on each other of the Russian jurisdictions in Paris. Schmemann discerned what was problematic in American life and culture. However, he also praised Americans’ spirit of community, their generosity and acceptance of others different from themselves. He was struck by the openness of American society and the opportunities available here, no matter your background. He lectured and traveled widely, received honorary doctorates and awards, appeared on the covers of Catholic journals—in short, was recognized more far beyond the Orthodox churches here. Schmemann and Meyendorff rejected the idea of the Orthodox as living in some kind of “diaspora” here in America, and their writing and work led to the the 1970 autocephaly of the OCA granted by the Russian Orthodox Church. They carefully urged the name “Orthodox Church in America,” to avoid the charge of “Americanizing” or modernizing. But they realized, of course, that, as with almost all other Orthodox churches here, it would be necessary and legitimate for the OCA to adapt to a different location and land than those of Europe and the Middle East. If anything, careful scrutiny of the range of adaptations they endorsed tells that they were careful theologically never to compromise tradition, but rather to find its living forms in a new era. The church body they


Michael Plekon

came to join in the 1950s had always used the conciliar model of St. Tikhon and the Moscow Council in its statutes. Bishops, clergy, and laity worked together at all levels of the church from the parish to the national body. Both Schmemann and Meyendorff endorsed the ancient ecclesiological vision of the “local church,” not just each parish being the church in communion with all the others (the thinking of Nicholas Afanasiev, a teacher of both), but a “local” church of a particular land, culture, language, and life. Reading either Meyendorff ’s many editorials for the national church publication or Schmemann’s journals, one finds them at home in America, integrated into the culture without losing their own Russian and French heritage, able to criticize and celebrate the opportunities, freedoms, and diversity here. There is no sense that Orthodox need to shun other Christians or people of faith in order to preserve their identity. Rather, like others from St. Sergius Institute and the Paris School, they saw much to incorporate from the West as well as much to share from the tradition of the Eastern Church. In this, they embodied the remarkable openness of the émigré Russian thinkers in Paris who responded with gratitude and affection to the hospitality of their Western church brethren. Their writings, especially the journal Put’ ( The way), which Berdyaev edited, give evidence to their assimilation into Western culture and society.10 An important perspective shared by these thinkers was regarding the mission of the church to the world. It is a stance that is not adversarial or confrontational, as nowadays some Christian bodies situate themselves. Rather, it is born of the conviction that from its earliest days, the church has always been in the world, “for the life of the world,” in the words of the Gospel of John (6:51). As far back as the late 1930s, a group of émigré Orthodox writers in Paris published a kind of manifesto of their ideas regarding the church in modern society, Living Tradition. In this anthology Afanasiev examines church councils and the question of whether their decisions are changeless and binding on every historical period to follow. He concludes this is decidedly not the case and draws further conclusions from his research. Is everything in the Church changeless and in what sense is the Church herself changeless? Such are the questions that, under various

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aspects, stir modern Christian thought. These are not only academic questions. They are questions vital to Christian life, since the solution of another question depends on them; i.e., what should and must be the attitude of the Church towards modern life and its problems. If everything in the Church is changeless and there is nothing temporal in her, then this means that modern life concerns the Church only to the degree in which the Church must keep and preserve her sanctity in the life of the world in order to bring it to the time of fulfillment. This presupposes that the Church to a certain degree is withdrawn from the world, that there is one road—from the world into the Church—but there is no road from the Church into the world. This would be correct only if the Church, together with its members, could leave the world. But she does not lead them out of the world (“since then you would need to go out of the world,” 1 Cor. 5:10) and, accordingly, the Church cannot leave her members in the world alone. The Church faces the world, not the desert. She abides in the world and builds in the world until “the fullness of time.” In relation to the world the Church, aside from a concern for self-preservation, also has positive concerns. If this is so, then there must be in the Church not only that which is unalterable, but also that which changes; along with the eternal, that which is temporal. Where then is the eternal and temporal in the Church, where is the dividing line between them, and what are their interrelationships?11 It is not surprising that Afanasiev, along with many of his colleagues at St. Sergius Institute, was a member of the first ecumenical association of the Orthodox and Anglicans, the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, still in operation today. In gatherings of this group from the 1930s until the war began, they took on many of the neuralgic theological issues that divided Christians—understandings of the Eucharist, the scriptures, the veneration of Mary and the saints, church organization and authority. Some of them even wrote about and discussed ways in which the schism and separation at the eucharistic table might be overcome. Many of the same individuals were active in the international gatherings at Edinburgh and Lausanne that led to the formation of the World Council of Churches after the war.


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Not only can the canons and the church change, Afanasiev argues, but this is necessary for the church’s serving of the world and its proclamation of the gospel. That Afanasiev himself was invited to and attended the last session of Vatican II as an official ecumenical observer flowed from what he had written and taught and witnessed for decades. At the very end of his life he was present for the lifting of the condemnations of the great schism of 1054 and the reconciliation actions of Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I and Pope Paul VI. He also wrote several essays on the ways in which the schism between the Orthodox and Catholics could be healed and communion restored. Afanasiev’s witness of ecumenical understanding and outreach and his careful, historical and theological proposals for reconciliation stand for me as powerful examples of how Orthodox Christians both can and should relate to other Christians. Such irenic and ecumenical modes of action are not always the ways in which Orthodox behave internationally or here in America toward those of other churches or other faiths. Identifying oneself with others who confess Christ and his gospel is paramount for me. I find that illuminating common beliefs and ways of putting them into practice for the common good are necessary ways of working with other believers and well within the precedents given by Afanasiev, Bulgakov, and others mentioned. At the same time, we can ask if there is any way in which the Orthodox faith could be expressed more explicitly and powerfully, given ecumenical respect and toleration. Here again, the very same émigré Orthodox figures have something to offer. The Russian Christian Student Movement, with its service to those in need and more basic challenge of moving religion out of the framework of ethnic tradition or family custom, began to speak of the “churching” of life. By “churching” they were speaking neither of the rite by which mothers are welcomed back to church after a birth nor an artificial injection of piety into everyday activities. Mother Maria Skobtsova, made a saint in 2004 with her companions for her service to the poor and their saving of victims of the Holocaust, offers an apt description of the vision of “churching” as it came to be discussed. She notes that in the Orthodox service the deacon or priest censes all the icons in the church building, and then the people assemble there for the services. She calls them “icon-people,” images of God, worthy of being censed and venerated. Then she goes on.

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We like it when the “churching” of life is discussed, but few people understand what it means. Indeed, must we attend all the church services to “church” our life? Or hang an icon in every room and burn an icon-lamp in front of it? No, the churching of life is the sense of the whole world as one church, adorned with icons that should be venerated, that should be honored and loved, because these icons are true images of God that have the holiness of the Living God upon them. Just as fascinating, though enigmatic for us is the expression “liturgy outside the church.” The church liturgy and the words spoken in it give us the key for understanding this notion. We hear: “Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess . . .” And further on, “Thine own of thine own we offer unto Thee, on behalf of all and for all.” These “others” who we love with one mind in the church also work with us outside the church, rejoicing, suffering, living. And those who are His and of Him, offering to Him on behalf of all and for all, are indeed “all,” that is, all possible encounters on our way, all people sent to us by God. The walls of the church did not separate some small flock from them all. . . . In this sense, the liturgy outside the church is our sacrificial ministry in the church of the world, adorned with living icons of God, our common ministry, an all-human sacrificial offering of love.12 It is this kind of vision, together with the perspectives of Schmemann and Meyendorff for their adopted home “local church,” that guides my work as one who is an Orthodox Christian, a priest, and a full-time professor at a large, public, urban, and diverse university. It is a ministry of openness to the culture, a genuine engagement with the learning and art, the politics and society around them, a desire to serve those in need. All of this is what the Paris figures saw as renewing Christian discipleship, bringing the church into real connection with society, culture, and life. These Orthodox theologians saw the face of Christ in Western Christians and in all the children of God. And they gave this witness of recognition, respect, even loving service, to those in need during some of the darkest years of the twentieth century, those of the Great Depression and World War II. Such are some of the most important Orthodox Christian kinds of ministry that I honor and try to put into practice at Baruch College of


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the City University of New York. The figures I have mentioned are not only objects of study but models, “living icons,” of how to engage with the academy, society, and the world. I believe that all people are made in the image and likeness of God, that all should be treated with love and respect because of who they are. Further, I am convinced that Jesus, as we see and hear him in the Gospels—while not condoning all behavior and offering sharp critique of overtly pious façades—welcomed all and turned away no one. Paul, writing to Christians in the imperial capital of Rome, urged them to rejoice with the joyful, weep with those grieving, to attempt to be at peace with everyone and to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:1–21). This he urged as he envisioned all the people of God gathered as the body of Christ, each with his or her own gifts and work, no one complete without the others. Schmemann must have had the perspective of the evangelist Saint John in mind when he retitled his book on the sacramental vision of the Eastern Church For the Life of the World. Christ said that he came not to condemn the world but to save it (John 12:47). Liturgical theologian that he was, theologian of the Eucharist par excellence, Schmemann must also have been thinking of Jesus’ words about himself as bread “for the life of the world.” (John 6:51). The Lord over and over told us to do his work—thus caring for “the life of the world.” NOTES 1. Baruch is one of over twenty campuses of a system that dates back to 1847 and to the Free Academy established by Harris Townsend to educate the children of poorer families. Today over 480,000 students study at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at twenty-three campuses throughout the five boroughs. There is the Graduate Center, numerous graduate programs at individual campuses, and a law school, in addition to other programs. See http:// www.cuny.edu/about.html and http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/. 2. Profile of Michael Plekon, Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, Baruch College, http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/wsas/academics/anthropology/mplekon .htm. 3. For the past decade the University of Notre Dame Press has been developing a line of serious scholarly studies in the history, theology, and personalities of the Eastern Church, including volumes on Solovyov, Bryn Geffert’s history of

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the Anglican-Orthodox Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, Olga Lossky’s biography of lay theologian Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, Hyacinthe Destivelle’s study of the 1917–18 reforming Moscow Council, Antoine Arjakovsky’s examination of the Russian émigré thinkers in Paris between the wars, and the first English translation of Nicolas Afanasiev’s groundbreaking ecclesiological text, The Church of the Holy Spirit (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007). UNDP has also published studies by Vigen Guroian, Aristotle Papanikolaou, George Democopoulos, and me, among others. 4. I also have included iconographer Sister Joanna Reitlinger, the Yupik healer Olga Arsamquaq Michael, YMCA international administrator Paul Anderson, and quite a few still active writers such as Barbara Brown Taylor, Patricia Hampl, Nora Gallagher, Rowan Williams, Kathleen Norris, Darcey Steinke, Sara Miles, Diana Butler Bass, Lauren Winner, Andrew Krivak, Mary Karr, Rembert Weakland, and Andrew Greeley, among others. 5. At Cambridge University in the United Kingdom the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies, based in the Faculty of Theology, offers several degree programs including distance learning. There are other, older examples of cooperation, including the SVS-Fordham relationship and that between L’institut catholique and St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris. 6. The Program in Religion and Culture is a nonfunded, voluntary faculty effort to offer courses that do not appear elsewhere in departmental lists. http:// www.baruch.cuny.edu/wsas/areas_of_study/interdisciplinary_studies/religion _and_culture.htm. In addition to courses specific to the program, more than twice as many courses are cross-listed, dealing with religion and offered in such departments as philosophy, sociology and anthropology, history, psychology, political science, modern languages, and English/literature. The point is that even without the program’s basic courses in comparative world religious traditions and specific courses in the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and related aspects of these, courses in religion as a component of human history and culture and life already are regularly offered. The program has a fascinating history. CUNY has long been strong on its secular identity even though faculty and students stem from all the major world religious traditions, not to mention some of the smaller ones, as well as the spectrum from agnostic and open nonbelief to rather militant atheism, sometimes with vocal antireligious attitudes. 7. See Sergei Hackel, Pearl of Great Price: The Life of Mother Maria Skobtsova, 1891–1945 (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1981). Reference will be made below to an anthology of her writings. 8. Stephen Prothero, God Is Not One (New York: HarperOne, 2011). 9. See Michael Plekon, Living Icons: Persons of Faith in the Eastern Church (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004), 59–80.


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10. Antoine Arjakovsky, The Way: Religious Thinkers of the Russian Emigration in Paris and Their Journal, ed. John A. Jillions and Michael Plekon, trans. Jerry Ryan (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2013). 11. “The Church’s Canons: Changeable or Unchangeable,” in Tradition Alive: On the Church and the Christian Life in Our Time, ed. Michael Plekon (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), 31–32. 12. Mother Maria Skobtsova: Essential Writings, trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2003), 80–81.




k yriAcos c. M Arkides

Most Orthodox Christians who have spent their lives in American universities will have no difficulty agreeing that Orthodoxy plays no role in the intellectual environment of modern academia. In fact, it is perhaps no exaggeration to assert that today Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American religions, and New Age spirituality enjoy a much more vibrant presence in the life of the academy than Orthodox Christianity. Courses are offered regularly about these other religions, while Orthodoxy is virtually unknown or ignored and often viewed as a branch of Roman Catholicism, if not a Catholic heresy! On the other hand, the various yoga techniques of Hinduism have become household words among Americans with university degrees. Such practices as Tai Chi, Transcendental Meditation, and Zen are common, both among university students and among faculty. By contrast, one rarely finds anyone familiar with the rich tradition of experiential practices that are an integral part of the hesychast tradition of Orthodox Christianity. 331


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I welcome, therefore, the opportunity to reflect on the nature of this state of affairs and suggest possible ways to make Orthodoxy part of the culture of the modern university, thus making available its spiritual wisdom to a wider audience. I should state at the outset that I am neither a religious scholar nor an Orthodox theologian but an American sociologist of Greek Cypriot background. My views on the subject are based not only on the fact that I was born and raised a Greek Orthodox but also on many years of social-anthropological, or participant-observation, research with lay Christian mystics and Athonite elders. Furthermore, as a sociologist of religion, I have had my views shaped by my exposure to other traditions beyond Orthodox Christianity. Therefore, unavoidably my professional background and personal experiences will color my views of the subject under consideration. I will begin with some personal notes about being Orthodox in a non-Orthodox, secular world. I came to the United States as a foreign student during the Kennedy administration and received all of my higher education during the “troubled sixties.” It was during that decade that my Orthodox faith was challenged at its core, and from a believer I became a reluctant agnostic. What eventually liberated me from agnosticism and brought me back to my Orthodox roots was a series of uncanny synchronicities that included (a) my exposure as a graduate student to the work of Pitirim Sorokin, the Russian refugee from the Bolshevik Revolution and founder of the sociology department at Harvard; (b) my involvement during the 1970s with the religions of the Far East and the practice for several years of Transcendental Meditation; (c) my encounter during the 1980s with Daskalos, a Cypriot healer and mystical philosopher; and (d) my discovery of Mount Athos during the 1990s. Pitirim Sorokin’s work was important for me not only because he was Orthodox but because his ideas helped me question the unexamined secular assumptions dominant in academic circles, which I have elsewhere called the “syndrome of modernity.”1 By that I mean the belief that the only reality is physical matter (reductionism), that only through empirical science is knowledge possible (positivism), that there are no universal moral standards (relativism), and that we as human beings are nothing more than an interplay between our biological inheritance and cultural conditioning (determinism). Sorokin demonstrated convincingly that

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human beings are not characterized by a conscious and an unconscious mind only, as Freud claimed, but most importantly by a “supra-conscious” mind, a concept reminiscent of Carl Jung’s “collective unconscious.” For Sorokin the “supra-conscious” is the source of true creativity and the wellspring of the mystical epiphanies and insights of the great saints and prophets throughout the ages. Furthermore, Sorokin argued that knowledge comes from three sources: the senses (the province of science), the mind (the province of philosophy and mathematics), and, most importantly, intuition, the source of knowledge of the great sages of humanity. Modern secular culture confined its vision on the first two approaches to knowledge and totally rejected the third, considering it a remnant of a superstitious past. Sorokin, on the other hand, advocated for the emergence of “integralist truth,” the cultivation of all three strands of knowledge in order to attain a more balanced, holistic, and integral vision of reality. In short, he claimed that there are realities beyond gross matter that neither natural science nor pure reason has access to. Those were radical ideas leading to the recognition that the mind is not confined within the brain, that it is “nonlocal.” Furthermore, whereas the consensus among scholars was that religion is a thing of the past and secularization an irreversible force in history, Sorokin, based on an exhaustive study of Western civilization, concluded that secular culture reached its peak point during the nineteenth century, whereas the twentieth century has been its period of exhaustion and decline. He boldly predicted that the historical pendulum is heading in the opposite direction, towards a resurgence of religion.2 Interestingly, Sorokin made that claim in the midst of the carnage of the Second World War, when such notions appeared incredible to his secular and philosophically reductionist colleagues. Sorokin, as a leading master of sociology, offered a green light to explore possibilities beyond the pale of conventional thinking. Whereas many Orthodox religious people often view Eastern religions with deep suspicion, as dangerous delusions or “heresies,” in my own experience they, along with Sorokin’s work, helped me during the 1970s to overcome the “syndrome of modernity” that I internalized during my student years. Eastern religions, in fact, led me to the rediscovery of my own Orthodoxy. Through the study of these religions and the


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practice of meditation for several years I came to the understanding that there are indeed realities beyond physical matter. In fact, it is this understanding that fascinated many American academics, from William James to contemporary transpersonal theorists like Ken Wilber, prompting them to likewise turn their gaze towards Hinduism and Buddhism for answers to the perennial human quest for self-knowledge. Little did I know at the time that what fascinated me about these Eastern religions (an experiential path to spiritual, transcendent realities) lay at the very heart of Eastern Orthodoxy. During the eighties my explorations of the world of a healer from Cyprus, named Daskalos, provided me with yet another step towards rediscovering Eastern Orthodoxy. These explorations confirmed the validity of Sorokin’s theories, that the mind is more than the brain and that human beings are more than their physical bodies. Daskalos demonstrated such unusual abilities of clairvoyant sight, healing phenomena, and the like that my mind was left little room to simply dismiss him as a “charlatan.”3 He seemed to be a bona fide Christian mystic and shaman. Most importantly, the work with Daskalos prepared the way for me to take Mount Athos seriously and become deeply involved with its religious culture. In 1991 my spiritual and academic life once again radically shifted after my encounter with Fr. Maximos, the then young Athonite monk who became my spiritual mentor and the subject of several of my books.4 Through him, I discovered an experiential path to God that I assumed, as I mentioned earlier, existed only in religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. This is an important point to keep in mind as we contemplate the possible role that Eastern Orthodoxy can play in modern academia. One can argue that the prevailing consensus among scholars that the only reality is physical matter is for all practical purposes no longer tenable. Quantum physics and modern cosmology have unveiled a universe that is infinitely more mysterious than traditional science has allowed us to imagine.5 Consequently, a small but growing number of fellow academics have concluded that a purely rationalistic approach to the acquisition of knowledge is inadequate. Most scientists and scholars, however, who have reached this understanding did not turn towards mainstream Christianity, be it Protes-

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tant, Catholic, or Orthodox, to find what they considered as the missing link in their quest for truth. Mainstream Christianity had already been undermined within academic culture by the Enlightenment and the centuries-old, relentless war between science and religion. Many scholars, therefore, disenchanted with scientific materialism, turned instead towards the “baggage-free” religions of the Far East. The mystical theodicies and spiritual practices of these religions appeared more enticing and relevant to Western explorers of consciousness than did traditional Christianity. A case in point is physicist Fritjof Capra, who wrote the influential book The Tao of Physics,6 showing how modern physics is compatible with the worldview of Taoism. Similarly, Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson invented the “relaxation response”7 as a result of his research related to the Hindu practice of mantra yoga meditation, a practice that, from a purely technical point of view, though not in essence, is quite similar to the Jesus Prayer of Orthodox monasticism. Dissatisfied with traditional science and traditional religion, I, too, was part of that movement of turning East in search of answers to our existential predicament. It is for this reason that I was thrilled to discover that Eastern Orthodoxy has in fact what I and other Westerners have been looking for in the religions of India and China. What specifically fascinated me was to discover that within Eastern Christianity there is a well-integrated tradition of spiritual practices that can be traced back to the origins of Christianity. I have summarized these spiritual practices as “The Three-fold Way,”8 namely, that human salvation proceeds developmentally in three stages: first there is the stage of catharsis, that is, purification from egotistical passions. This is followed by fotisis, or illumination. In this second stage the struggling soul is endowed by grace with spiritual gifts, such as clairvoyant and prophetic vision, healing abilities, inner peace, and the direct experience of the “uncreated light.” Finally, there is the stage of theosis, or union with God, the ultimate destination of the human soul. It is at the first stage, catharsis, that the person must struggle, ideally with the help of an experienced spiritual guide or elder, to overcome egotism and lowly desires so that the gifts of the Holy Spirit can become manifest in his or her life. Given my exposure to Eastern religions, this “discovery” was a revelation. It seemed to me at the time that there was indeed a “Christian


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yoga” for spiritual development that Western academics knew nothing about. Based on my personal experience, I have come to recognize that when American students and academic colleagues recognize this fact, they become very interested in knowing more about Eastern Orthodoxy. The question naturally arises, why is there such a lack of awareness among the wider academic community of the rich spirituality of Eastern Christianity? What are the obstacles that maintain this state of affairs? I will try to identify some and suggest possible ways of overcoming them. One of the basic causes that kept Orthodoxy outside the mainstream of American culture and academia is, of course, the fact that American society was created by primarily Protestant Europeans who brought to the new world their cultural traditions and religious beliefs. At its very core the ethos of American culture, at least during the early stages of its development, was clearly Protestant. Orthodox peoples were still under Ottoman or Muslim domination and later on under Communist rule. The Orthodox came to America quite late in the formation of the country, remaining relatively small in number. Consequently, they were not part of the shaping of the country’s basic institutional structures and cultural ethos. A further obstacle may be the fact that Orthodoxy is more otherworldly in its eschatological orientation, and tightly connected to its monastic and hermitical tradition. Protestantism, on the other hand, from its very beginning in the sixteenth century, has cultivated, as Max Weber showed, a this-worldly “asceticism” and orientation leading to the abolition of monasticism altogether, considering it an anachronism, if not a form of superstition. In short, Western Christianity on the whole is based on a more individualistic, rational approach to God, whereas Orthodoxy has remained essentially ascetical, mystical, and experiential. Another possible obstacle is the very word “orthodox.” The term “orthodoxy” (or right dogma), within the context of the American experience, is often confused with the orthodox forms of Judaism, of the Hasidim. Within modern academia and within a pluralistic, democratic society that emphasizes individualism and free debate over the nature of truth, the notion that some group has the exclusive and true “dogma” is frowned upon and considered “antidemocratic,” a remnant of pre-Enlightenment conditions of intolerance towards free thought and towards acceptance of diverse viewpoints. Within academic circles the

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appellation “orthodox” often has a meaning that is equated with extreme conservatism and “reactionary” politics. Orthodoxy, like Catholicism, developed within the context of a relatively homogeneous civilization where church and state were united and religion developed with the full support of the imperial state. On the other hand, the hallmark of modern America is the strict separation of church and state and the flourishing of an open, competitive marketplace of diverse religions and philosophical viewpoints. Many Orthodox students are often alienated from their inherited religion precisely because of what they perceive as outdated attitudes prevalent within the traditional religious community. In short, there is a wide gap between the freethinking culture of the university, what they learn in classrooms, and what they hear in church on Sunday morning. This cultural gap works against their cradle religion. More often than not, Orthodox students become assimilated within the larger cultural and pluralistic environment of the free exchange of ideas. If and when they become exhausted with secularism, they shop around to find a spiritual practice suitable to them, and this, more often than not, is a version of Eastern religions or New Age spirituality. Any attempt on the part of Orthodox authorities to impose orthodoxy through exclusivist and xenophobic proclamations is self-defeating. It only aggravates this situation, jettisoning the younger generation further away from the religion of their parents and as a result weakening the presence of Orthodoxy on American campuses. This, of course, is true not only in regards to Orthodoxy but also to the other branches of Christianity and to traditional Judaism and Islam. Another possible reason for the absence of Orthodoxy in the academy is that, unlike the Catholics, who have a centralized system of religious authority transcending ethnic divisions, Orthodoxy has been divided along many and redundant jurisdictions, usually along ethnic lines, and often in competition with one another. Orthodoxy does not have a universally recognized leader, like the pope or the Dalai Lama of Tibet, who can speak on behalf of the faith. A possible unifying leader, like the patriarch of Constantinople, the “First among Equals,” regardless of how charismatic he might be, is virtually a “prisoner” of the Turkish state. He remains at a disadvantage to offer a dynamic form of leadership for all Orthodox that could impact Orthodoxy’s presence in the world and, by extension, in American universities. Therefore, the Orthodox have been


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not only, comparatively speaking, a very small minority in American society but also one that failed to create a unified force to promote its spiritual offerings in the academy. Preserving and promoting ethnicity took precedence over promoting the faith. Such speculations, of course, can be verified only with carefully crafted empirical studies. A further obstacle to Orthodoxy’s presence in the context of the modern American university may spring from the fact that, on the whole, there is no meaningful dialogue between Orthodoxy and other religious traditions or between Orthodoxy and current movements in religious thought. The dominant attitude among many Orthodox theologians, explicitly or implicitly, is that we have nothing to learn from others who do not share our religious tradition. We are so convinced that all there is to be known is confined within Orthodoxy that we believe looking elsewhere for new information and insights about the spirit world would be either a waste of time or, worse, apostasy. Such an attitude does not invite outsiders to familiarize themselves with our own religious tradition. I am not suggesting that all religions are alike or advocating “syncretism.” Each religion is unique just like each language and culture is different from all others. Speaking for myself, I could say without equivocation that Orthodox Christianity is second to none, satisfying my spiritual needs completely. It is for this reason, after all, that I opted for the Jesus Prayer rather than continue with Transcendental Meditation. But I do not need to anathematize other religions in affirming my own Orthodoxy. People are different and have different needs. God made us this way. We cannot assume that what suits us must ipso facto be relevant to everybody else. This is, I am afraid, what some Orthodox do not understand when they feel the need to automatically downgrade other religions in contrast to our own. Predictably, this form of religious triumphalism only alienates others, who may equate Orthodoxy with various forms of fundamentalism. An illustration of what I am saying was the reaction of a participant in an interreligious conference. The non-Christian religious scholar stood up and exasperatedly pointed the finger at an Orthodox colleague, declaring, “Sir, you are suffering from a sense of cultural superiority!” Yet many Christians in the academy do not believe such a xenophobic posture is really Orthodox. One can argue that the best teachings in Orthodoxy can provide inspiration and direction in terms of how to relate to people from other religious traditions and how to come to terms

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with the presence of other religions in a radically pluralistic world like ours, particularly within the boundaries of American academia. For instance, the notion of the Logos Spermatikos—that is, the understanding among leading fathers of the church that the wisdom of God is widespread in creation—is extremely important.9 Embedded in this understanding is the implication that no one religious tradition, regardless of how magnificent or complete it may be, can contain totally the wisdom of the ineffable and infinite God. No one religion can claim absolutely exclusive possession of God’s grace. Therefore, there is no limit to our growth in God’s divine knowledge and wisdom. We can learn from other religions and grow in the process, furthering our understanding of our own Orthodoxy. When I find elements of Orthodoxy in other religions, as far removed from the Christian world as Hinduism and Buddhism, this very fact reinforces my belief and commitment to my Eastern Orthodoxy. When claims are found in more than one religion, from radically different civilizations, as, for example, when claims made in the Judeo-Christian world are found in traditional India, then there is more validity to those truth claims. Evagrius Ponticus, for example, stated that the god that can be named is not the real God.10 An identical understanding comes from Taoism: “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”11 Change the word “Tao” to the word “God” and we have the same apophatic intuition about ultimate reality. Should that realization make me feel offended as a Greek Orthodox, or feel joyous that others in cultures radically different from my own arrived at the same understanding about the nature of divinity? Wouldn’t that offer additional support to the validity of that statement by Evagrius Ponticus? Second, the opening paragraphs in John’s Gospel clearly underscore the universality of Christ as the Logos which is present in the deepest recesses of every human being regardless of his or her religious affiliations or beliefs. All human beings are made in the image of God, sharing the same divine origin. As Orthodox theology teaches, all human beings are infinitely loved by their Creator, and Christ is the same “yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Third, apophatic theology, which is the hallmark of Orthodoxy as articulated by Saint Gregory Palamas, emphasizes the incapacity of the human intellect to define what God is.12 That is, God can be experienced only through spiritual practice and the cultivation of humility, and not


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by exclusively focusing and absolutizing specific dogmas. The latter attitudes, alas, will not serve as magnets pulling individuals towards Orthodoxy, at least within the context of the American, pluralistic academic environment. And I do strongly believe that Eastern Orthodoxy has much to offer to help the world free itself from the delusion of historical materialism and reductionism and move towards the development of “integralist truth,” a prerequisite, as Pitirim Sorokin would have argued, for the long-term survival of the human race. Fortunately, there are within Orthodoxy today wise elders whose work and personal example can appeal not only to Orthodox believers but also to seekers and explorers of spiritual truth from beyond Orthodoxy. I believe that through their work these individuals offer an image of Orthodoxy that is as inviting to an academic audience as any spiritual tradition from the Far East, thus paving the way for Orthodoxy to become an active partner in the current discourse between science and religion, between the religions themselves, and between modern culture and spirituality. I have in mind such religious luminaries as the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who is being increasingly recognized internationally as the “Green Patriarch” thanks to his untiring global outreach to save the earth from environmental degradation.13 I also have in mind the extraordinary work of Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and Archbishop Makarios of Kenya for their heroic and exemplary, nonproselytizing missionary work in their non-Orthodox host countries. Furthermore, converts like Bishop Kallistos Ware14 of Oxford University and his friend, the late Philip Sherrard,15 through their work have made the essence of Orthodox theology, free of ethnocentric pomp, accessible to an international audience. At the same time, it is a great blessing that in recent years a number of books have been translated into English depicting the life and work of contemporary Orthodox saints. They collectively offer a view of Orthodoxy that unveils the heart of our spiritual tradition in a way that embraces the world, leaving no one outside. In nondogmatic ways, filled with the love and compassion that one finds at the core of the Orthodox tradition, they invite Orthodox and non-Orthodox readers alike to absorb the wisdom that emanates from the life of these contemporary saints. In this category I would include Elder Sophrony’s work on St. Silouan the Athonite,16 the biography and homilies of Eldress Gabrilia,17 the extraor-

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dinary spiritual heroism of the Russian Father Arseny during the Stalinist terror,18 and the autobiography of Elder Porphyrios.19 These are some of the books that I routinely recommend not only to fellow Orthodox who wish to deepen their understanding of their own religion but also to the non-Orthodox. The universal response is extremely positive and enthusiastic. I believe this type of Orthodox literature can have the same impact within academic circles as some of the classics from the Far East.20 Lastly, the best way to render Orthodoxy relevant in academia is to become, ourselves, embodiments of the spiritual tradition we represent. It is not accidental that the Dalai Lama has won the hearts and minds of many Americans, making Tibetan Buddhism an appealing religious tradition among the cultural elite. He comes across as the clear embodiment of the compassionate tradition he represents. Likewise, if we wish for Orthodoxy to be taken equally seriously in the academy and beyond, we need to demonstrate in our own lives those very traits of humility and compassion that can win over the hearts and minds of our colleagues and students. Fortunately, we have plenty of opportunities to cultivate those virtues when encountering the provocations and temptations emanating from within the competitive environment of academic life. In this respect we can heed the homily that Saint Seraphim of Sarov offered to his disciples: find peace within you and a thousand people will become peaceful.21

NOTES 1. Kyriacos C. Markides, “Eastern Orthodox Mysticism and Transpersonal Theory,” Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 40, no. 2 (2008): 178–98. 2. Pitirim Sorokin, Social and Cultural Dynamics, 4 vols. (New York: American Book Co., 1937–41). 3. Kyriacos C. Markides, The Magus of Strovolos (New York: Penguin, 1985); Markides, Homage to the Sun (New York: Penguin, 1987); Markides, Fire in the Heart (New York: Penguin, 1991). 4. Kyriacos C. Markides, The Mountain of Silence (New York: Doubleday, 2001); Gifts of the Desert (New York: Doubleday, 2005); Inner River (New York: Random House /Image Books, 2012). 5. Amit Goswami, God Is Not Dead: What Quantum Physics Tells Us about Our Origins and How We Should Live (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing, 2012).


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6. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics (Boston: Shambhala, 1991). 7. Herbert Benson, The Relaxation Response (New York: HarperTorch, 2000). 8. Markides, Mountain of Silence, 212–24. 9. Paul A. Boer, ed., Selected Writings of St. Justin Martyr (Oakland: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012); Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Writings of Justin Martyr (Berkeley, CA: Apocryphile Press, 2007). 10. Augustine Casiday, Evagrius Ponticus (New York: Routledge, 2006); Reconstructing the Theology of Evagrius Ponticus: Beyond Heresy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Julia Konstantinovsky, Evagrius Ponticus (London: Ashgate, 2008). 11. Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching, trans. Stephen Mitchell (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 1. 12. John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2010). 13. See Sarah Hobson and Jane Lubchenco, eds., Revelation and the Environment, AD 95–1995 (River Edge, NJ: World Scientific, 1997). 14. Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way (London and Oxford: Mowbray, 1979). 15. Philip Sherrard, Christianity: Lineaments of a Sacred Tradition (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1998). 16. Sophrony Sakharov, Saint Silouan, the Athonite (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1999). 17. Gabrilia, Mother Gabrilia: The Ascetic of Love (Thessaloniki: Series Talanton, 1999). 18. Father Arseny, trans. Vera Bouteneff (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2000). 19. Elder Porphyrios, Wounded by Love: The Life and Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios (Limni, Evia, Greece: Romiosyni Books, 2005). 20. Another salutary development that should be noted is the recent initiative on the part of some Orthodox academics from various fields to open a dialogue between Orthodoxy and modern science. In this respect I have in mind the work of biological anthropologist Daniel P. Buxhoeveden of the University of South Carolina. 21. Valentine Zander, St. Seraphim of Sarov, trans. Gabriel Anne (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1975); Lazarus Moore, An Extraordinary Peace: St. Seraphim, Flame of Sarov (Port Townsend, WA: Anaphora Press, 2009).




e lizABeth h. P rodroMou

The general questions that animate and inform this volume—the challenges of research, writing, and teaching about religion in the American academy—are ones with which political scientists working on religion and international relations (IR) grapple regularly. The core questions around which the diverse contributions in this volume cohere—exploration of Orthodox Christianity’s contributions to debates about religion and higher education in America, institution building and voice in US higher education by Orthodox Christians, and the development and vitality of something akin to “Orthodox Christian Studies” in the American university context—are particular expressions of those general questions, and assume specific contours and dimensions for the subset categories to which I belong. It is from the vantage point of four intersecting professional and identity categories that I approach these questions: first, as a political 343


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scientist rooted in a home discipline but enthusiastically committed to the kind of cross-disciplinary inquiry advocated by the great development economist Albert Hirschman,1 as the optimal approach for original scholarship on international relations and religion; second, as a social scientist whose focal research explores Orthodox Christianity in terms of comparative debates on secularity and democracy; third, as a policy maker working on issues of international religious freedom, geopolitics, and security, especially in the Middle East, with regard to the condition of Orthodox Christians; and finally, as an Orthodox Christian scholarpractitioner interested in self-critical reflection and convinced of the value of considering what political science reveals about the linkages between how Orthodox Christianity is studied in the American academy and how Orthodox Christian academics and ecclesiastical leaders engage in the faith-knowledge nexus in US higher education. Undoubtedly, in order to transpose the general question—about the causes of Orthodox Christianity’s comparative marginality in shaping the conceptual architectures and institutional structures of higher education in America—to the more specific consideration, of Orthodox Christianity as agent and subject in political science in the American academy, one would need to carry out a study well beyond the limited constraints of this essay. Therefore, while the scope of my reflections in this chapter is necessarily modest, I nonetheless aim for them to be consequential for advancing our understanding of why Orthodox Christians have either rarely weighed in or have been marginal voices2 on the faith-learning nexus in American higher education. By offering a stylized, synthetic narrative of the study of Orthodox Christianity in political science, I aim to show that the current moment in political science and geopolitics is an exciting one for Orthodoxy and to urge all who have a stake in the future of Orthodoxy to recognize the significance of this moment. Current political science research on Orthodoxy in American universities and current US geopolitical priorities in regions and countries with Orthodox Christian histories and citizens afford exciting possibilities for Orthodoxy’s broader move from margins to mainstream in the cutting-edge theoretical debates and the empirical research on religion in political science and, especially, in that discipline’s subfields of IR and comparative politics. As a “religiously committed political scientist,”3 I want to encourage both Orthodox Christian scholars across disciplines and Orthodox

Reflections on Political Science and Orthodox Christianity


Christian ecclesiastical decision makers and “higher education patrons”4 to recognize the American academy’s undeniable tendency toward “an emphasis on the personal combined with the call for methodological transparency . . . [and an] openness about one’s own religious convictions or orientation”;5 and I urge them, therefore, having recognized this tendency, to make an intellectual and competitive leap beyond the secularreligious binary that has been so self-limiting for Orthodox Christian presence, voice, and contribution in the American academy.


The crucial starting point is the need to identify and recognize the dynamic by which geopolitical priorities and epistemic categories function reflexively to explain the puzzling fact that Orthodox Christianity’s place “in political science is vastly underproportioned to its place in headlines around the globe”6 and to political science theorizing on the role of religion in international relations. “Secularism as a form of political authority”7 long made the study of religion suspect for “serious” political scientists; therefore, academic research on Orthodox Christianity, similar to the academic study of all religious traditions, was largely relegated to seminaries, confessional/denominational colleges, and university departments of religion. Yet the secular-religious, and more specifically, seculartheological, binary assumed particular valences that kept Orthodoxy decidedly at the margins of American academic inquiry into religion and, most noticeably, of political science inquiry into religion. I have written elsewhere about the intersection of geopolitical priorities and epistemic categories in the political science scholarship on Orthodox Christianity, where Orthodoxy is positioned as a “marked category” whose meaning and value are defined by a power relationship that is determined by the “unmarked category,” most usually, Western Christianity.8 Accordingly, what I would call “the writing of Orthodoxy” in the discipline of political science in American higher education has been, until relatively recently, a project built on intellectual models and ideological perspectives and policy preoccupations that utilized and perpetuated outmoded and/or incomplete histories and that reflected and reinforced global-power political objectives.


Elizabeth H. Prodromou

Political science scholarship, in comparative politics studies on modernization-secularization and democratization and in IR research on US and Euro-American foreign policy, has had profound and pernicious effects on the knowledge regimes applied to the study of Orthodox Christianity. Most specifically, the hegemony of modernization-secularization theory in political science research on religion, modernity, and democracy, which fit neatly with, and gave leverage to, the predominance of realism and idealism in IR theory, built a knowledge regime summed up in the elisions of modernity-secularity-democracy and West-AmericaEurope. The consequences for research on Orthodox Christianity in political science in the American academy were straightforward: Orthodox Christianity as faith tradition and as cultural and civilizational experience, and Orthodox Christians as actors in historical change, were positioned as an essentialized “other” whose alterity explained everything from the putatively anomalous patterns of religion-state relations in “Orthodox countries” and “the Orthodox world” to the emergence of communism and the resilience of authoritarianism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Religion has been embedded in the interlocking political and historiographical projects of what Anthony Pagden sums up as the imagining of a collective idea of Europe.9 Specifically, the emergence and consolidation of the state in Europe occurred in opposition to the Roman Catholic and, then, Protestant churches; this territorialization of religion according to the unit of the state not only clarified both the political equation and historiographical narrative of Europe with the secular state, but also played out in the IR tradition of geopolitics, which turns on arguments about global hegemony via control over Eurasia as a territorial and ontological space wherein religion shapes borders and boundaries.10 In short, IR theory about the role of religion in the origins of the state and the sources of state authority in Western Europe established the master narrative of Orthodox Christianity’s alterity from that historical experience. Orthodoxy’s alterity was marked as a deviation from the aforementioned “norm,” and was reinforced by comparative politics research which drew from the IR wellsprings to posit that countries with a predominantly Orthodox historical experience or demography built incomplete arrangements of church-state separation that undermined democracy. In his elegant argumentation about religion, democracy, and “the twin tolera-

Reflections on Political Science and Orthodox Christianity


tions,”11 comparative politics giant Alfred Stepan notes that the analytical claims about the secularism-democracy dyad as applied to Orthodox Christianity (and other religious traditions) relied on historiographical foundations and normative assumptions whose veracity are belied by empirical research; Stepan convincingly states his case that there is much ground to hoe in terms of rigorous empirical inquiry that can develop an alternative to the conventional political science narratives about Orthodoxy and democracy. The staying power of the knowledge regime that has shaped Orthodox Christianity in political science research and policy circles in America is undeniable. Consider Samuel Huntington’s claims soon after the end of the Cold War (when IR theorists were searching for a new paradigm by which to organize ideas and power in global affairs) about “the Slavic Orthodox civilization” as the opaque geographic and religio-cultural space “where Europe ends, namely, where Western Christianity ends and Islam and Orthodoxy begin,”12 or Robert Kaplan’s caution well into the twenty-first century (when IR theorists’ very loose consensus about a unipolar paradigm has been overshadowed by the geopolitical paradigm of “the war on terror”) that scholars must “remember that communism . . . [was] . . . an extension of the totalitarian tendencies within Orthodox Christianity.”13 Michael Herzfeld brilliantly captures the insidiousness of the reflexivity between political science knowledge regimes and geopolitical interests. Writing in the blog of Foreign Policy, the venerable touchstone for IR scholar-practitioners, Herzfeld dissects the European Union (EU) response of financial and operational support (or lack thereof ) to Greece, the frontline state in the massive forced-migration flows into the EU from the collapsing states of Iraq and Syria; he argues that EU policy elites’ rush to consider the ejection of Greece from the Schengen zone as a means to wall off “Europe” has exposed not only “the exclusionary logic at the heart of the Schengen system, but also . . . [of ] . . . Greece’s tenuous cultural membership. . . . Greece—often treated as a not-quiteEuropean remnant of the Ottoman Empire, its Orthodox Christianity regarded as something exotic and vaguely out of touch with the European mainstream.”14 There are hints that the treatment of Orthodox Christianity as a marked category has seeped into the literature on religion and higher


Elizabeth H. Prodromou

education in the United States—even within the context of the more general absence of Orthodoxy from scholarship on religion and higher education in America. Indicative is the work of Perry Glanzer: a widely recognized scholar whose research focuses on religion, moral formation, and higher education, Glanzer, in his investigation into the evolution of Christian higher education in post-Communist Europe, positions the Eastern Orthodox Church as the one “that broke from the Catholic Church in 1054,”15 with a history of “traditional subservience to the state . . . [that accounts for why] . . . the Eastern church still never established its own universities during this time [of nation-state formation].”16 Glanzer’s “global reconnaissance of Christian higher education” draws from the wellsprings of the modernization-secularization knowledge regime in political science to mark Eastern Christianity against unmarked Western Christianity and uncritically accepts and perpetuates the “caesaropapism” moniker as a general category to describe all church-state arrangements involving all Orthodox churches through all periods of time.17 John McGuckin, Kyriacos Markides, and Candace Hetzner have written with compelling insight in this volume about the causes for what Markides declares emphatically as “Orthodoxy [playing] no role in the intellectual environment of modern academia.”18 Most significant from my perspective, when it comes to understanding questions of agency and voice, is the aforementioned authors’ consensus, drawn from their respective home disciplines, that Orthodox individuals and institutional actors are implicated in accepting and perpetuating the “ideological conditions that give point and force to the theoretical apparatuses employed to describe and objectify”19 the binaries of secular and religious in the study and engagement of Orthodoxy in American higher education. Echoing the expansive research on Roman Catholic and Protestant engagement in American higher education, the aforementioned contributors to this volume critique the Orthodox Church in the United States for abandoning “the Orthodox educational philosophy—that sense of the ‘mystery’ of education—or paideia, as the ancients called it.”20 This notion of education as a mystery, one that combines rigor with creativity, discipline with discovery, intellectual pursuit with self-actualization, makes Orthodox understandings of learning compatible with “American institutions of higher education . . . a safe place for dialogue but also a

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place where debate is welcome and where even warring voices can be heard and acknowledged.”21 Hetzner emphasizes the deleterious decisionmaking consequences of “Orthodox hierarchs [who] do not have any direct experience of [denominational institutions] of higher education in the American context,” while Markides highlights the adjustment anxiety and defensiveness of “Orthodox theologians [who], explicitly or implicitly, [reject the competing truth claims explored in American universities because] . . . we have nothing to learn from others who do not share our religious tradition.”22 Given the challenges of working on Orthodox Christianity as a political scientist, I see the critiques of McGuckin, Markides, and Hetzner as invaluable for calling attention to what I would argue is a problem of mentalité when it comes to tackling the absence of voice by Orthodox Christians in American political science. More specifically, the Orthodox Church establishment—here, I mean the complex cross-section of decision makers and actors who strategize over the voice, participation, and impact of the Orthodox Church (in the fullest sense of the meaning of ecclesia) in American higher education—must critically evaluate whether there is evidence of some degree of internalization of the knowledge regime of secularization-modernization, as well as of a deliberate instrumentalization of Orthodoxy as a marked category by some church-state partnerships aiming at geopolitical objectives. This sort of fearless self-reflection implies that anything resembling robust “Orthodox Christian Studies” in the American academy can only be the consequence of a revolution in mind-set, a transformation in mentalité. The church establishment in America (I refer to Orthodox writ large, that is, all of the jurisdictions that make up the Assembly of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America) must commit to a philosophical and spiritual move beyond narrow, clericalist notions of “theology”23 that reduce theology to rarefied, abstract theory and specialized knowledge monopolized by either the ordained stratum or academic theologians. This radical reconceptualization of theology is easily accomplished, by mining and retrieving articulations of evangelism and living theology found in the New Testament, developed in patristic sources, and invoked by contemporary Orthodox hierarch-theologians: Metropolitan Maxim Alhambra’s rejection of “theoretical theology,” which amplifies


Elizabeth H. Prodromou

Metropolitan John Zizioulas’s explication of Christian theology as “the expression of the living Church, rather than of intellectual perception or the logical arrangement of propositions,”24 provides a starting point for such an attitudinal and cultural shift at the leadership and decisionmaking levels (ordained and lay alike) in the Orthodox Church establishment. As a member of the advisors in the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church held in Crete in June 2016,25 I was heartened to hear multiple hierarchical voices call for a revitalization of the global church’s commitment to a missionary, living theology of transformation. A meaningful move away from the clericalization and hyperspecialization of the study of Orthodoxy in the American academy also requires a change in mind-set regarding the rationale for the systematic study of Orthodox Christianity and IR, beginning with an acknowledgment that the teaching and actualization of Orthodoxy as a living theology is incompatible with restriction to the boundaries of either a few disciplines or confessional and vocational institutions of education. The unity in diversity which Eastern Christians understand as the expression of the fullness of the Orthodox Church was on full display in the Holy and Great Council in Crete. This was, indeed, a pan-Orthodox gathering (notwithstanding the four Orthodox churches that withdrew on the eve of the convocation of the council), in the sense that its participants were a compelling representation of the globality of the Orthodox Church in the twenty-first century. Surely, any attempt to come to terms with the challenges and opportunities confronting this unity in diversity requires the input and research of political science—in helping to differentiate between evolving notions of center (Old World) and diaspora (all else) in the organization and action of the church; in making sense of the comparative needs and strengths of local churches in regions as far flung as East Africa, the Middle East, North America, and East Asia, to name a few; and, above all, in coming to terms with the important distinction between religion in politics, on the one hand, and religion in the public sphere, on the other.26 The study of Orthodox Christianity in departments of political science and schools of international relations and public policy in the American academy is a sine qua non for any serious effort to understand the relationship and distinctions between what I would

Reflections on Political Science and Orthodox Christianity


call the geopolitics of Orthodoxy (Orthodox ecclesiastical politics) and Orthodoxy and geopolitics (geopolitics and religion). The instrumentalization of secularist models of church-state relations and the emergence of competing fundamentalist, traditionalist, and modernist tendencies within Orthodox churches are already at the center of contemporary research in comparative politics studies of religious pluralism and in IR analyses of religion and foreign policy. In short, the moment is ripe for a full incorporation of Orthodoxy into the disciplinary space of political science and, above all, for a move toward an inter- and cross-disciplinary research agenda for the study of Orthodoxy in US higher education, but the development of Orthodox Christian studies depends on a radical change in mind-set among Orthodox scholars, practitioners, and decision makers in the American context. Some might misunderstand my introductory observations as a “glasshalf-empty” lament about the objectification and marginalization of Orthodox Christianity in political science scholarship in the American university context. In fact, my narrative and analysis are by no means intended as complaint about powerlessness and stasis, but rather are meant to identify and to outline the knowledge regimes that have shaped the study and voice (or lack thereof ) of Orthodox Christianity in political science in American higher education.


Without a doubt, the past quarter century has seen a remarkable shift in research on and discussion about religion by scholars of political science, most especially in the subfields of IR and comparative politics, but also in the subfields of political theory, public law and administration, and even in political economy. As I will explain presently, the drivers for the Kuhnian paradigm shift27 in the study of religion by political scientists, summarized by the lumpen, yet captivating, slogan “the resurgence of religion,”28 have been overwhelmingly empirical. Having come of age as a political scientist and, eventually, as policy maker and practitioner within the context of those initial events and the associated paradigm shift, I share some autobiographical information that I hope will be helpful in


Elizabeth H. Prodromou

elucidating how the theoretical, methodological, and analytical ferment in political science research on religion is affecting research, teaching, and discussions about Orthodoxy in the American academy. The explosion of critical retheorizing on religion and secularity, and religion and geopolitics, was occurring as I began my doctoral studies in political science at MIT. Especially consequential were two events. The first, well before my doctoral studies, was the Iranian Revolution in 1979, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, which overthrew the autocratic regime of the Pahlavi Dynasty and replaced it with an Islamic theocracy. The Iranian Revolution was a game changer for American social scientists and policy makers alike, who were shocked by the alacrity, success, and geopolitical impact of a religious revolution in a country defined as “modern, secular, and Westernized.”29 The second consequential event was the terminus of the Cold War, a global event that belied full explanation through the application of IR theoretical models, as political scientists began to recognize that the charismatic energy of Karol Józef Wojtyła (Pope John Paul II) in upending state socialist regimes in Eastern Europe was part of a far more complex pattern of socially transformative actions by Roman Catholic and Protestant organizations and ideas rooted in Eastern Europe and linked to transnational religious actors. These two events, followed soon after by the wars of Yugoslav secession/succession that got fully underway when I was completing my dissertation, pushed political scientists to discover new theoretical and methodological approaches, as well as to expand the scope of comparative inquiry, in order to improve the understanding of the causality between religion and conflict/violence, the relationship between religion and democratization, and the unanticipated, global salience of religion on the eve of the third millennium. The paradigm shift, highly contested, also contributed to the rapid breakdown of boundaries between the subfields of comparative politics and IR, arguably encapsulated in Huntington’s 1993 proposal for a civilizational paradigm—after all, Huntington had long worked in the political science subfield of comparative politics, and his clash-of-civilizations arguments amounted to a repurposing for the subfield of IR of the secularization-modernization paradigm as a “new” model for explaining and predicting the effects of religion on whether geopolitical changes took place violently or peacefully.

Reflections on Political Science and Orthodox Christianity


Within this context, I had chosen my dissertation topic (the eventual title was “Democracy, Religion and Identity in Socialist Greece: ChurchState Relations Under PASOK, 1981–1989”)30 with great enthusiasm regarding the potential for situating Orthodoxy (and Greece) within debates about rethinking secularization, the role of religion in the “third wave” of democratization,31 and modernity/ies; I was also intrigued by the possibility of studying Orthodoxy in Greece as a first step to a broader, comparative reconsideration of models of church-state relations in Europe. Yet my dissertation research quickly introduced me to the realities of alterity, inertia, and internalization when it came to working on Orthodoxy (amplified by my case selection of Greece), even on the remarkably shifting terrain of political science research on religion. The rethinking of the secularization-modernization paradigm turned on several theoretical innovations that, from my perspective as a young graduate student, were especially ripe for research on Orthodox Christianity and democracy. Most specifically, the conceptual distinctions between secularization as process, “secularity” as a descriptive term for a condition, and secularism as an ideology and set of normative choices allowed for historically informed32 political science scholarship to account for comparative differences in patterns of secularization, as well as for analyses of the effects of geopolitics on religion in processes of substate and interstate change. These conceptual and analytical shifts implied a rupture with longstanding notions of modernization-secularization as uniform, unilinear, and unidirectional trajectories, as political scientists began to discover and apply methods from evolutionary biology (and, most recently, to draw from complexity theory)33 to make sense of the unpredicted, continuing salience of religion in generating transformations in the international order. My main challenge within the context of the American academy arose from the dearth of political science research on Orthodoxy, which revealed the stickiness of Orthodoxy as a marked category. The thin corpus of US political science research on Orthodoxy was built on conceptual and analytical foundations that had already positioned Orthodoxy—temporally, geographically, and historiographically—outside of and alien to the pale of Western Christianity and the emergence of the state and the “revolutions in sovereignty”34 that inaugurated modernity as marked by the twin


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events of the Peace of Augsburg and the Treaties of Westphalia. Furthermore, although political science scholarship was only beginning to mine the importance of religion to the (end of ) the Cold War, the revisionist work on religion and the Cold War reinforced the alterity of Orthodoxy by virtue of its identification with the former Soviet Bloc. A review of the research by political scientists in the Greek academy revealed that, with few exceptions, these political scientists were, like their counterparts in America who worked on Greece, largely uninterested in religion; furthermore, where Orthodoxy was part of their research agenda in the Greek academy, I encountered the weddedness to conventional binaries (modern-traditional, center-periphery, normal-abnormal, secular-religious) that identified Orthodoxy with corollaries of exclusivist nationalism, illiberal democracy,35 and most especially, with an underdog political culture36 rooted in Greece’s “Byzantine, Ottoman, and Balkan” civilizational experiences and geopolitical position.37 The realities of inertia in applying political science theorizing on religion to research on Orthodoxy in Greece might have been constructively cautionary, if not for the responses to my dissertation topic by Orthodox scholars in Greece, as well as by the broader Orthodox decision-making establishment in the United States that was referenced in my earlier mentions of Herzner, McGuckin, and Markides. Surprising questions about my personal faith convictions—was I an Orthodox believer, was I raised in the Orthodox Church, why would a student of political science in a prestigious US institution of higher education such as MIT be interested in writing a dissertation on Orthodoxy and democracy, why study Orthodox Church–state relations in Greece since, after all, the caesaropapist and hypernationalist arrangement was intrinsic to Orthodox beliefs—were regularly put to me in field research, as well as in my preliminary research in the United States, by scholars who self-defined as the Orthodox equivalent of “cultural Orthodox Christians” or “lapsed Orthodox” in the social sciences and humanities in US institutions. Alternatively, I discovered that ecclesiastical decision makers and scholars working on Orthodoxy in the discipline of theology (whether in seminaries of denominational universities or in departments of religion) in the American academy tended to view research on Orthodoxy and international relations as unrelated to broader research questions and contributions on Orthodox Christianity.

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I relate these dissertation experiences with some trepidation—based on my respect for Jacques Berlinerblau’s sardonic observation that some of the leading voices in the critical reconsideration of the secularizationmodernization paradigm write in such a self-referential fashion as to lead the reader “on a safari through [the authors’] mind”38—but with confidence that they are instructive for thinking about the broad problematic of where Orthodoxy fits in the turbulent, contested, and intensely public debates about the role of faith in the academy and the study of religion in political science. Indeed, despite definitional challenges associated with the term “religion” and methodological challenges associated with measuring “religiosity,” it is fair to say that Peter Berger had it right when he observed that “the world today is as furiously religious as it ever was.”39 Yet, for all the hullabaloo in political science about the “return of religion in international relations,”40 the trajectory of conceptual innovation in the scholarship on religion in political science has been frustratingly gradual and marked by a degree of de facto backsliding to the familiar contours of the modernization-secularization paradigm—a tendency that has been acutely intensified by the securitization of religion that, arguably, has been the single most defining feature of political science scholarship in the American academy in the post-9/11 world. The September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States, orchestrated by Osama bin Laden in the name of Islamic holy war, as well as the current, globalizing actions of the Islamic State (IS) have made jihad a part of the lexicon in the American university and, in the process, have provoked a firestorm of political science debates about the dangers of religion to modernity (and the acceptability of what Jean Bethke Elshtain called “God-talk”41 in the academy), a modernity conceived in terms of a-religious norms and conventions of civility—arguments that echo the cross-disciplinary “hostilities along the border of theology and religious studies”42 about whether the former (teaching religion) as well as the latter (teaching about religion) belongs in the academy in the United States. IMPLICATIONS AND DIRECTIONS FOR ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY AND POLITICAL SCIENCE

What does the qualified rupture in the hegemony of the secularizationmodernization paradigm, as well as the predominant focus by political


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scientists on religion as a security threat, suggest for the study of Orthodox Christianity in political science in the American academy? Can political science research on Orthodox Christianity enrich, clarify, and augment theoretical innovations in the conceptualization of secularization/arity/ ism, in understandings of modernity, and in the analysis of causal and corollary relations between religion and the peacefulness or violence of transformations in an international order that can no longer be easily classified as Westphalian? I conclude on a note of cautious optimism about the continuation of the discernible move from margins to mainstream in the political science scholarship on Orthodox Christianity. The remarkable expansion of social science research on Orthodoxy, and especially of the political science research on Orthodoxy and international relations,43 has begun the move of Orthodoxy from margin to mainstream and the transformation of Orthodoxy from exclusive designation as marked category in IR scholarship in the American academy. Studies on religion-state relations, religion and law, religious freedom and human rights, and nationalism and religion have moved Orthodox Christianity into comparative studies on religion in Europe, the Middle East, and the United States; similarly, research on transnational religion and state sovereignty, religion and human security, and religion and humanitarianism have catalyzed scholarship on Orthodox Christianity. Notions of exceptionalism and otherness, which once defined political science research on Orthodoxy, are now being critiqued and examined for their ideological and normative origins and implications—including by Orthodox scholars who had long deployed those same assumptions uncritically and who are beginning to analyze the equally deleterious effects of self-marginalization and defensive triumphalism associated with internalizing the secularizationmodernization paradigm in the domain of academic inquiry and in the exploration of Orthodox participation in the public sphere. It is worth pointing out that the primary factor in the move from margins to mainstream in research on Orthodox Christianity in political science, along with the emergence of an unprecedented (albeit frustratingly slow) shift toward cross-disciplinary research on Orthodoxy in the American academy, has been the profound change in global geopolitical conditions relevant to political science research on Orthodoxy. Two geo-

Reflections on Political Science and Orthodox Christianity


political developments have been most critical in this regard. First, the end of the Cold War has enabled the emergence of a globalized, transnational community of Orthodox Christian scholars conducting research in political science, offering the possibilities for comparative analyses of the internal pluralism of global Orthodox Christianity and, thereby, laying bare the empirical evidence that contradicts the essentialization of Orthodoxy that was a hallmark of secularization-modernization approaches. A related, second factor has been the emergence, consolidation, and, currently, the possible fragmentation and failure of the European project, as well as the associated rediscovery of Eurasia as a geopolitical space—the latter amplified by religio-political developments in the Middle East. Questions about the mapping of Europe and Asia and/or Eurasia44 have catalyzed research on Orthodox ideas, institutions, communities, again, situating Orthodoxy within the context of theoretical debates about religious and secular forms of authoritarianism, human rights and religious freedom, and religious homogenization versus pluralism. Taken as a whole, the principal geopolitical factors that have driven religion from margins to mainstream in political science in the American academy have also encouraged interest in the study of Orthodox Christianity by political scientists. Notwithstanding the encouraging signs of the mainstreaming of research on Orthodox Christianity in political science in the American academy, the possibilities for a more audacious change—to borrow from George Marsden’s thought-provoking rumination The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship45—in the presence and contribution of Orthodox Christians to the intellectually exciting, politically fraught, and operationally urgent debates about faith and higher education in America, with attendant implications for the quality and impact of political science scholarship on Orthodoxy, are highly contingent. The origins of such contingency are laid out by Cornell University sociologist Richard Swedberg, who posits that effective theorizing is closely linked to observation; and observation should here be interpreted in the very broad sense that it has been understood throughout the history of science. . . . It should include observation of others as well as observation of oneself (introspection).


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It should include meaning and not just view behavior from the outside (thick description vs. thin description). Since the main idea is to say something new when one theorizes, however modest this novelty may be, it is crucial to get as much and as varied information as possible.46 Swedberg’s formulation makes clear that the onus is on Orthodox Christians, especially, in their faith-based leadership and decisionmaking structures in America, to imagine and to commit to building institutionalized programmatic activities for Orthodox Christian studies in American universities, much as has been done with other denominations and confessions that have developed religious studies centers, institutes, professorships, and programs across the American academic terrain. Such imagination and commitment take us back to my earlier discussion about the need for a radical and fearless transformation in mentalité—a deliberate rupture with clericalist notions of theology and a conscious rejection of a worldview that sees no connections between scholarship on Orthodoxy, political science, and public policy. This volume gives cause for hope in the growing momentum of critical self-reflection and conscientious and confident agency. Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation, who also served as president of the New York Public Library and president of Brown University, has written eloquently about the urgency for America’s institutions of higher education to enunciate a clear philosophy of education47 that avoids the pitfalls of overspecialization and disciplinary fragmentation, accepting “the need to create sound synthesis and systemization of knowledge . . . [in order to] . . . call out a kind of scientific genius which hitherto has existed only as an aberration: the genius of integration . . . [so that] the [person] will be specializing in the construction of the whole.”48 The conception of the American university as a living institution, whose cornerstone is freedom and whose health depends on promoting the integration of knowledge and the integrity of scholarly research, is brilliantly compatible with Orthodox Christianity’s core teachings about faith as a way of life and about the integrity of all creation. Gregorian’s ruminations were part of a festschrift for the magnificent scholar Jaroslav Pelikan, who embraced Orthodox Christianity in his later years and who identified the

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great Orthodox thinker Georges Florovsky as the mentor who exemplified “what it is to be a scholar and a Christian at the same time.”49 Gregorian, Pelikan, and Florovsky were not put off by the complexities of making sense of and respecting the distinctions and connections between one’s religious commitments and one’s scholarship. In this, they understood that the American academy is undeniably a place best characterized by Martin Marty’s refreshing formulation: “In adjusting to the complex world around them, people confound the categories of social scientists, theologians, and philosophers: they simply ‘make do’ with a combination of syncretic and characteristically modern blend of attitudes—call it religio-secular.”50 The future of Orthodox Christianity and political science will play itself out in the complicated interstices of the religio-secular reality of higher education in America. NOTES 1. Jeremy Adelman, Michele Alacevich, Victoria de Grazia, Ira Katznelson, and Nadi Urbinati, “Albert Hirschman and the Social Sciences: A Memorial Roundtable,” Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 6, no. 2 (Summer 2015): 265. 2. In the introduction of this volume, Ann Bezzerides identifies this question as the driving motivation for our work in this volume. 3. Andrea Sterk and Nina Caputo, “Introduction: The Challenge of Religion in History,” in Faithful Narratives: Historians, Religion, and the Challenge of Objectivity, ed. Andrea Sterk and Nina Caputo (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014), 2. 4. Arthur Levin, “How the Academic Profession Is Changing,” Daedalus 126, no. 4 (Fall 1997): 1. 5. Sterk and Caputo, “Introduction,” 2. 6. Daniel Philpott, “Has the Study of Global Politics Found Religion?,” Annual Review of Political Science 12 (2009): 184. 7. Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, The Politics of Secularism in International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 1. 8. José Casanova, “Cosmopolitanism, the Clash of Civilizations and Multiple Modernities,” Current Sociology 59, no. 2 (2011): 252–67. For earlier work on the impact of the intersection of geopolitical interests and epistemic categories on treatments of Orthodoxy in political science research, see Elizabeth H. Prodromou, “Shaking the Comfortable Conceits of Otherness: Political Science and


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the Study of ‘Orthodox Constructions of the West,’” in Orthodox Constructions of the West, ed. George Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013), 193–210; Prodromou, “Paradigms, Power, and Identity: Rediscovering Orthodoxy and Regionalizing Europe,” European Journal of Political Research 30, no. 2 (September 1996): 125–54. 9. Anthony Pagden, introduction to The Idea of Europe: From Antiquity to the European Union, ed. Anthony Pagden (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Cambridge University Press, 2002), 1. This book offers a breathtaking review of the intersection of epistemic categories and geopolitical interests in shaping the idea and policies of Europe. Orthodox Christianity figures richly in several of the contributions to the volume. 10. Instructive sources include Anthony Cooper, “Where Are Europe’s New Borders? Ontology, Methodology and Framing,” Journal of Contemporary European Studies 23, no. 4 (2015): 447–58; Jason Dittmer and Joanne Sharp, eds., Geopolitics: An Introductory Reader (New York: Routledge, 2014). 11. Alfred C. Stepan, “Religion, Democracy, and the ‘Twin Tolerations,’” Journal of Democracy 11, no. 4 (October 2000): 35–57. 12. These formulations run throughout Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996). 13. Robert D. Kaplan, The Revenge of Geography (New York: Random House, 2013). This is a book whose publishing house indicates the goal of marketing Kaplan’s ideas to a broad, nonspecialized reading public. 14. See the blog post by Michael Herzfeld, “Welcome to Greece (but Not to Europe),” Foreign Policy, February 25, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016 /02/25/welcome-to-greece-but-not-to-europe-schengen-racism/. 15. Perry L. Glanzer, “Resurrecting Universities with a Soul: Christian Higher Education in Post-Communist Europe,” in Christian Higher Education: A Global Reconnaissance, ed. Joel Carpenter, Perry L. Glanzer, and Nicholas S. Lantinga (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 163. 16. Ibid., 164. 17. A critical reinterrogration and problematization of the term “caesaropapism” is evident through mining inter- and cross-disciplinary work in theology, history, and political science. For an interesting sampling of a rich and complex subject still awaiting in-depth, systematic analysis in comparative politics research, see Deno J. Geanakoplos, “Church and State in the Byzantine Empire: A Reconsideration of the Problem of Caesaropapism,” in Byzantine East and Latin West: Two Worlds of Christendom in Middle Ages and Renaissance (Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1966); Patrick Viscuso, “Christian Participation in Warfare: A Byzantine View,” in Peace and War in Byzantium: Essays in Honor of George T.

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Dennis, S.J., ed. Timothy S. Miller and John Nesbitt (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1995), 33–40; Nicholas Oikonomides, “The Concept of ‘Holy War’ and Two Tenth-Century Byzantine Ivories,” in Miller and Nesbitt, Peace and War in Byzantium, 62–88; Elizabeth H. Prodromou, “Orthodox Christian Contributions to Freedom: Historical Foundations, Contemporary Problematics,” in Christianity and Freedom, ed. Timothy Samuel Shah and Allen Hertzke (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 301–32. 18. See Kyriacos Markides, “The Absence of Eastern Orthodoxy in American Academia and Its Possible Relevance for an Integral Vision of Reality,” chapter 15 in this volume. 19. David Scott and Charles Hirschkind, “Introduction: The Anthropological Skepticism of Talal Asad,” in Powers of the Secular Modern: Talal Asad and His Interlocutors (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006), 3. 20. See John A. McGuckin, “Education (Paideia) as Kerygmatic Value in the Orthodox Tradition,” chapter 1 in this volume. 21. Vartan Gregorian, “Higher Education in an Age of Specialized Knowledge,” in Orthodoxy and Western Culture: A Collection of Essays Honoring Jaroslav Pelikan on His Eightieth Birthday, ed. Valerie Hotchkiss and Patrick Henry (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2005), 146. 22. See Markides, “Absence of Eastern Orthodoxy in American Academia,” chapter 15 in this volume. 23. I am grateful to Bishop Maxim Alhambra for his insightful comments on the tendency among Orthodox theologians and churchmen to fall into the conceptual and ontological errors and perils of “theoretical theology” when thinking about the contributions of Orthodox Christianity to contemporary world affairs. For his initial remarks on this point, see “Theological Foundations: Conceptual Architectures and Definitions of Humanitarianism” (panel discussion, Colloquium on Orthodox Christianity and Humanitarianism, Brookline, MA, May 2015, http://humanitarianism.goarch.org/colloquium-program). See also Maxim Alhambra, “Can Theology Provide the Basis for Humanitarianism?,” in “Orthodox Christianity and Humanitarianism,” ed. Elizabeth Prodromou and Nathanael Symeonides, special issue, Review of Faith and International Affairs 14, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 9–17. 24. Douglas H. Knight, introduction to Lectures in Christian Dogmatics, by John D. Zizioulas, ed. Douglas H. Knight (New York: T & T Clark, 2008), 3. 25. For detailed information on the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, see https://www.holycouncil.org/home. 26. José Casanova’s pathbreaking Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994) brilliantly differentiates between religion and the public sphere, on the one hand, and religion and politics, on


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the other, a distinction that continues to be misunderstood by Orthodox theologians. 27. Kuhn’s arguments rejecting linear notions of progress and change in science were originally published in 1962, but the revolutionary and, most important for the study of religion in political science, cross-disciplinary impact of his arguments continues to the present. See Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012). 28. There is a vast political science literature under the rubric of “resurgent religion,” which spawned associated literatures on the reconsideration of secularism and secularization, the reworking of state and religious sources and forms of authority, and transnational religion. Two emblematic publications, with superb bibliographies, are Craig Calhoun, Mark Juergensmeyer, and Jonathan van Antwerpen, eds., Rethinking Secularism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), and Jack Snyder, ed., Religion and International Relations Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011). 29. Instructive were the plethora of articles and books under the moniker of “who lost Iran,” a meme whose intrinsic hubris and condescension derived directly from the modernization-secularization worldview that shaped American institutions of higher education and, by extension, the US foreign policy establishment. For a representative read, see Shaul Bakhash, “Who Lost Iran?,” New York Review of Books, May 14, 1981, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives /1981/may/14/who-lost-iran/. Bakhash’s article was a review of Debacle: The American Failure in Iran, by Michael Ledeen and William Lewis (New York: Random House, 1981). 30. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1993. 31. Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), 194. 32. For a thoughtful treatment of the importance of history for efficacious policy making in international relations, see Jo Guildi and David Armitage, The History Manifesto (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014). 33. An excellent summation, with useful references, is Giovanni Capoccia and R. Daniel Kelemen, “The Study of Critical Junctures: Theory, Narrative, and Counterfactuals in Historical Institutionalism,” World Politics 59, no. 3 (April 2007): 341–69. Some of the earliest applications of evolutionary biology to analyze political-economic changes were pioneered by MIT political scientists Michael Piore and Charles Sabel, in The Second Industrial Divide: Possibilities for Prosperity (New York: Basic Books, 2006). An extended, accessible treatment of complexity theory applied to political science theorizing is provided by David Byrne and Gillian Callaghan, Complexity Theory and the Social Sciences: The State of the Art (New York: Routledge, 2013).

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34. Daniel Philpott, Revolutions in Sovereignty: How Ideas Shaped Modern International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001). 35. Amongst his many works on the issue, see, for example, Nicos Mouzelis, “On the Concept of Populism: Populist and Clientelist Modes of Incorporation in Semiperipheral Polities,” Politics and Society 14, no. 3 (1985): 329–48. 36. P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, “Cultural Dualism and Political Change in Post-Authoritarian Greece,” Working Paper 50, Instituto Juan March de Estudios e Investigaciones (Madrid), February 1994, http://www.march.es/ceacs/ publicaciones/publicaciones.asp. 37. Ibid., 12. 38. Berlinerblau’s caustic observation was aimed at Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age and was part of Berlinerblau’s broader criticism of the revisionist secularist school that he identifies as “postmodern, Post-Foucauldian, and postcolonial (or Pomofco).” For the quote on Taylor, see Jacques Berlinerblau, “The Crisis in Secular Studies,” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 8, 2014, 10. 39. Peter Berger, introduction to The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics, ed. Peter Berger et al. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), 2. 40. Titles under this rubric have become almost fashionable in international relations scholarship, especially since the 9/11 terrorist assault on the United States. Indicative of the trend is Fabio Petito and Pavlos Hatzopoulos, eds., Religion and International Relations: The Return from Exile (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). 41. Jean Bethke Elshtain, “Against Liberal Monism,” Daedalus 132, no. 3 (Summer 2003): 78. 42. Linell E. Cady and Delwin Brown, introduction to Religious Studies, Theology, and the University: Conflicting Maps, Changing Terrain, ed. Linell E. Cady and Delwin Brown (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002), 1. 43. The remarkable expansion of political science (and, more generally, social science) research on Orthodoxy has produced myriad publications, far too lengthy to list in a single endnote. For some representative publications, marked by thematic, theoretical, methodological, and case diversity, with excellent bibliographical resources, see, for example, Jonathan Sutton and Wil van den Bercken, eds., Orthodox Christianity and Contemporary Europe (Leuven: Peeters, 2003); Alfons Bruning and Evert van der Zweerde, eds., Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights (Leuven: Peeters, 2012); Victor Roudometof and Vasilios N. Makrides, eds., Orthodox Christianity in 21st Century Greece: The Role of Religion in Culture, Ethnicity and Politics (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010); Elizabeth H. Prodromou, “Christianity and Democracy,” Journal of Democracy 15, no. 2 (2004): 62–75; Prodromou, “Negotiating Pluralism and Specifying Modernity


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in Greece: Reading Church-State Relations in the Christodoulos Period,” Social Compass 51, no. 4 (2004): 471–85; Prodromou, “Religious Pluralism in TwentyFirst-Century America: Problematizing Implications for Orthodox Christianity,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 72, no. 3 (September 2004): 733–57. 44. Maria Todorova’s magisterial work on Balkanism inaugurated a range of research that integrated Orthodoxy into analyses of geographic, cultural, and historiographical mappings of Europe and Eurasia. See Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans, updated ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). For related work on southeastern Europe, see Dusan I. Bjelic and Obrad Savic, eds., Balkan as Metaphor: Between Globalization and Fragmentation (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001). Within the context of current research on geopolitics and the instrumentalization of Orthodoxy for foreign policy purposes and geopolitical goals, see Lucian N. Leustean, “Eastern Christianity and the Liberal International Order,” in Faith, Freedom, and Foreign Policy: Challenges for the Transatlantic Community, by Michael Barnett et al. (Washington, DC: Transatlantic Academy, 2015), 168–90, http://www.gmfus.org/publications/faith-freedom-and-foreign -policy-challenges-transatlantic-community; Alicja Curanovic, “The Guardians of Traditional Values: Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church in the Quest for Status,” in ibid., 191–212; Charles Clover, “Dreams of the Eurasian Heartland,” Foreign Affairs 78, no. 2 (March–April 1999): 9–13; Igor Okunev, “A Foreign Policy to Suit the Majority? A New Dimension of Russia’s Geopolitical Code,” Russia in Global Affairs 11, no. 2 (April–June 2013): 78–86. 45. George Marsden, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). 46. Richard Swedberg, “From Theory to Theorizing,” in Theorizing in Social Science: The Context of Discovery, ed. Richard Swedberg (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014), 13. 47. Vartan Gregorian, “Higher Education in an Age of Specialized Knowledge,” in Hotchkiss and Henry, Orthodoxy and Western Culture, 162. 48. José Ortega y Gasset, The Mission of the University (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1944), quoted in Gregorian, “Higher Education in an Age of Specialized Knowledge,” 162. 49. John H. Erickson, “Jaroslav Pelikan: The Living Legend in Our Midst,” in Hotchkiss and Henry, Orthodoxy and Western Culture, 8. 50. Martin Marty, “Our Religio-Secular World,” Daedalus 132, no. 3 (Summer 2003): 42.




r oy r. r oBson

On the evening of August 5 every year, Orthodox Christians prepare for the Feast of the Transfiguration. The All-Night Vigil, as it is called, has two high points—reading of the gospel and singing of the holiday canon. Just before the gospel comes the Polyeleos, a liturgical moment of fragrance, light, movement, text, image, music, liturgical gesture, and local tradition.1 The result—using the language of Mikhail Bakhtin—is polyphonic, multiperspectival, and ultimately transfiguring. The Polyeleos offers important guidance for education, especially in the realm of world religions. Those of us who teach might emulate the Polyeleos’s polyphony by proffering multiple voices and textual genres, varied opinions, images, and points to consider rather than pat conclusions for students to memorize. This multiplicity of voices can nurture open-ended and even transformational experiences that vary from one student to another. As an Orthodox Christian, professor, and author, I am inspired by the Transfiguration Polyeleos as I strive to cultivate a polyphonic experience 365


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of knowledge, truth, and wisdom in my work. Proposing a relationship between liturgical structure and secular textbooks may seem obscure, or even dangerously sectarian. But in fact, the Transfiguration Polyeleos provides a model for polyphonic learning that destabilizes the dominant trend in contemporary American education, a craze for quantifiable outcomes. In its place, the Transfiguration Polyeleos cultivates varied and individual growth—even transformation—that defies any form of assessment that discounts the importance of difference and individuality. My concept of polyphonic learning derives in part from Mikhail Bakhtin, the twentieth-century Russian scholar of literature and culture. Though less well-known than many other theorists, Bakhtin has profoundly influenced many scholars of both education and religion.2 I integrate two of Bakhtin’s elements—the concepts of dialogism and unfinalizability. In short, dialogism posits that meaning develops through the constant interaction of many voices, each affecting the other. Since this process never stops, each individual continues to develop, change, and transform in concert with everyone around him or her. Unfinalizability challenges the possibility of accurately assessing learning outcomes, since there can never be a final “outcome” or a “best practice,” terms widely used in the assessment of teaching and learning. A Bakhtinian approach leaves open the possibility of a transformational experience that grows out of a multiplicity of voices. (Bakhtin differs from Ivan Kireevskii, who famously idealized the Russian peasant commune as a “moral choir,” wherein all voices melded but none was lost. Rather than harmony, as Kireevskii implies, Bakhtin finds meaning in the independent, yet connected, voices of polyphony.) In a broad sense, we can interpret the interactions among clergy, laity, choir, icons, church vessels, and freshly picked fruit during the Transfiguration Polyeleos as being constructed not as the whole of a single consciousness, absorbing other consciousnesses as objects into itself, but as a whole formed by the interaction of several consciousnesses, none of which entirely becomes an object for the other; this interaction provides no support for the viewer who would objectify an entire event according to some ordinary monologic category . . . and this consequently makes the viewer also a participant.3

The Transfiguration Polyeleos, Textbooks, and Polyphonic Learning


I believe that the Polyeleos exemplifies polyphonic learning, and thus provides an inspiration—even model—for writing a new kind of textbook. As Bakhtin points out, contrary to first glance, even prose can be polyphonal.4 Moreover, a polyphonic textbook offers us a way to think, speak, and act with our students that neither undermines our own tradition nor belittles theirs. It is the opposite, I think, of the “totalizing tendencies” noted with despair by Alan Wolfe in his thoughtful essay “The Potential for Pluralism.”5


The All-Night Vigil for the holiday begins with Vespers, including Old Testament readings, intercessory prayers, and special hymns of glorification. A solemn reading of six psalms links Vespers to the Matins section of the vigil. The Polyeleos comes near the beginning of the vigil service, just after the choir chants verses from Psalms 135 and 136 (Septuagint; NRSV 136 and 137). Meanwhile, clergy move from the altar to the center of the nave, standing in front of the festal icon. In the Russian tradition, the clergy and choir responsorially chant the Magnification Hymn while the priest censes and circumambulates the icon: “We magnify, we magnify You, O Christ the Giver of Life; and we honor the all-glorious Transfiguration of Your most pure Body.”6 The deacon then intones the Small Litany and prepares for the gospel reading while the choir sings the Song of Ascents (anavathmoi or stepennyi) from Psalms 119–33 (Septuagint; NRSV 120–34). The deacon follows with the Prokeimenon, and the choir chants its response.7 Again standing in front of the icon, the priest then reads the Matins Gospel, including these words: At that time, Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and


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when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. (Luke 9:28–32) Afterward, the choir begins to sing the canon of the Feast of the Transfiguration, while the gathered faithful kiss the festal icon and turn to the priest, who paints a cross of olive oil on their foreheads. In some monasteries, a monk lights and swings the large “Polyeleos chandelier” back and forth over the congregation, even sloshing oil onto the people below. The Magnification Hymn, too, is full of movement and drama: verse and response, billowing incense, tinkling censer bells, flowing clerical robes, and in the middle of it all, the transfiguration icon ringed by flowers. As the faithful kiss the icon, they see an image of Christ surrounded by ethereal light, conversing with Moses and Elijah. In this icon, Moses and Elijah do not prophesy the coming of Christ, but rather illustrate the potential for human deification, speaking “face to face” with God. Depicted in the foreground of the icon, the disciples lack the mandorla of light that surrounds Christ, and they have fallen down in fear instead of standing atop the mountain. Yet the icon traditionally portrays them as the same size and wearing clothing similar to that of the prophets, reminding us that all people can be transfigured.8 The choir, singing the canon, reinforces that message: “Being complete God, Thou hast become complete man, bringing together manhood and the complete Godhead in Thy Person which Moses and Elijah saw on Mount Tabor in the two natures.”9 After bowing and kissing the icon, the lay members turn toward the priest to receive their anointment. The church falls back into a gloaming light, encouraging the contemplation of the mysteries of the transfiguration. Each of these layers of action, symbol, and theology complements the others, producing a profoundly multivoiced experience. Some elements of the Polyeleos follow a narrative flow (small litany–Prokeimenon–Gospel reading). Other parts of the ceremony, like censing the icon while chanting the Magnification, or singing the canon while kissing the icon, overlap each other. In fact, the word “Polyeleos” itself has developed multiple meanings, celebrating the abundance of both oil and mercy. Finally, the feast’s relationship to the agricultural calendar ensures its linkage to the summer harvest—God’s gift of food. In Russia, the aroma of incense and

The Transfiguration Polyeleos, Textbooks, and Polyphonic Learning


oil mingles with the scent of freshly picked apples, brought to be blessed for “Apple Savior” day. In Greece, the smell is of first-harvest grapes.


World religion textbooks are big business. The largest textbook publishing house, Pearson-Prentice Hall, produces nearly eighty titles that might be considered introductory texts on the subject. Some cover the “Big Five”—Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam. A few prefer a more encyclopedic approach, while yet others introduce religion via anthropology, history, or psychology. Though publishers keep their figures secret, the best-selling texts likely sell thirty thousand copies per year or more, producing “considerable influence in academia.”10 Scholars have long criticized textbooks as simplifying the messy experience of life and reifying stereotypes. Recent studies, for example, have concluded that world civilization texts regularly “misrepresent cultural minority groups,” Africans, women, and others.11 A review of Islam in textbooks sums up the prevailing opinion: “Though textbook authors and editors bring considerable good will to the process of portraying religions, many of them fail to paint a consistent or thoroughly accurate picture of [Islam] or its adherents’ history.”12 The situation for Orthodox Christianity is similar to that of Islam in most textbooks. None of the best-selling introductory world religion textbooks covers Orthodoxy in the same depth as Catholicism or Protestantism, and the volumes vary widely in their treatment of Eastern Christianity.13 One text, for example, offers but a single page delineating medieval Orthodox and Catholic ideas about papacy, then notes that “Eastern theologians tended to emphasize the divine nature of Christ, whereas those of the West emphasized his humanity.”14 On occasion, even prominent authors show remarkable ignorance of Orthodox Christianity. Oxford University Press’s World Religions Today is the most self-consciously scholarly book among the top sellers and the most intellectually dense. It emphasizes themes of globalization, modernization, colonialism, socialism, postmodernity, and postcolonialism. Yet its authors defend a paltry one-third of a page covering the Eastern Church with a singularly absurd


Roy R. Robson

statement: “Our main emphasis is on Latin (Western) Christianity, because that is the form of Christianity that fostered the emergence of modernity.”15 (One can imagine how scholars of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, or Kazantzakis might respond.) The best textbooks, however, do include historical overviews, “distinctive features of Orthodox spirituality,” integration of Orthodoxy into discussions of contemporary trends, and special sidebars with titles such as “Russian Orthodox Kenoticism” or “Inside a Greek Orthodox Church.”16 Yet, for the most part, the best sellers tend to marginalize Orthodoxy as a remnant of the medieval past or a dying bit of ethnic religiosity. Most often, they lead students to conclude that only Catholicism and Protestantism are the really important traditions of Christianity. It is one thing to critique best-selling textbooks, but another thing entirely to employ the polyphonic model in writing for eighteen-year-old freshmen. Of course, I hope that my readers will appreciate the Eastern Church as a full partner in Christianity, which is itself a multivoiced tradition. More broadly, though, I seek to apply the Polyeleos model throughout my writing. The great advantage of this approach lies in its ability to embrace ambiguity and difference as vehicles of truth, rather than obstacles to be overcome. After considerable experimentation, I have developed four strategies that I hope will foster a polyphonic experience for my students: 1. Replacing the omniscient narrator with a personal authorial voice 2. Openly discussing students’ unease in studying religions other than their own 3. Raising visual sources to the level of importance traditionally given to texts 4. Emphasizing lived religion—actions, gestures, movement, and the senses I begin by avoiding the traditional omniscient narrator. In my textbook’s introductory message, I ask students, “Use Think World Religions as a way to begin the dialog with your instructor, other students, and the greater community around you. . . . This book should bring up many more questions than it answers.”17 In the first chapter, I introduce my own

The Transfiguration Polyeleos, Textbooks, and Polyphonic Learning


college experience, writing that “my undergraduate adviser had a poster on her door, which I can still see in my mind’s eye. It quoted Rainer Maria Rilke, reminding us students not to preoccupy ourselves with memorizing answers. Instead, it said ‘Try to love the questions themselves.’”18 Still later in the book, I use a personal example to illustrate the Confucian concept of the rectification of names: “My undergraduate mentor invited me to his house on my graduation day. We split a bottle of beer—a first!—and he told me to call him by his first name. I realize that he was a superior person at work, making sure that he had rectified our names in a new, post-college atmosphere.”19 At first, these felt like artificial intrusions of ego into the narrative. Yet I have come to embrace this technique as a way to remind readers that they too can interpret concepts based on their own experiences. The use of the first-person pronoun, I believe, helps the textbook to be a voice in dialogue with its readers, rather than an encyclopedia that brooks no dissent. In market surveys, many professors have bemoaned their students’ disregard for religious traditions that they deem foreign or strange. Some textbooks employ social theory (especially postmodernism) as a way to democratize religions and make them palatable. Others bring out the “negative aspects of religion” as a way to show that all traditions have good and bad in them. In Think World Religions, I have taken a more basic approach, asking, “Why is religion so difficult to talk about?” I couch the discussion in the devotion I felt toward the Pittsburgh Steelers while living in Philadelphia—home to the Philadelphia Eagles. I introduce “Steeler Nation” as a proxy, which indeed can look like a religion, with its distinct history, myths, doctrines, rituals, emotions, sacred places, and behavioral norms.20 I then present some study strategies: not giving up personal values, using metaphorical and comparative techniques, and trying to come to truth through dialogue rather than monologue. At the end of the introductory chapter, though, I admit to my own failings: “As I prepared to write this conclusion, I scanned the sports page for news of the Steelers. But here in Philadelphia, everything was about the Eagles. . . . It made me want to turn to the comics section.”21 By using both a personal voice and a nonthreatening example, I hope that students will begin to feel comfortable with a polyphonic approach to religion. What, after all, is religion? A creation of scholars? A community of like-minded people,


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as in the Steeler Nation? A form of social control? An opiate of the people? A path to heaven? Might students add their own voices? I hope so. Next, I believe that the critical and careful use of images can also foster a multivoiced approach to studying religion.22 As a result, Think World Religions has at least one color picture on nearly every page, with captions that relate photos to one another and to the text. My use of images derives from a long fascination with iconography, especially in regard to an icon’s relationships to the senses, its ability to convey meaning, and its invitation of personal engagement.23 An Episcopal priest, for example, once told me that she loved Rublev’s icon of the Old Testament Trinity because Rublev had “left a place at the table” for her. An icon’s multiple light sources and varying perspectives thus encourage a dialogue between the icon and the viewer and undermine any attempt to perceive the event from a single point of view. Though secular pictures are different from icons, I try to keep in mind these ideas when writing a textbook. In Think World Religions, I open each chapter with a beautiful and provocative image, designed to foster dialogue and multiple points of view. One such photo opens a chapter on Islam. In the caption, I ask students to consider many aspects of the image: “Sitting on the floor in their mosque in Oman, these three Muslim men study a beautifully illustrated version of the Qur’an, Islam’s most sacred text. What can you guess about Islam just by looking at this picture? Why do they wear special hats? Why do the books have as much color as text? What do their body postures reveal to us about their religious tradition?”24 I hope my method is clear—the men, the Qur’an, the colors, the design elements, the photographic angle, my questions, and my students’ answers are all voices in the polyphony of learning. To be sure, many scholars distrust this approach. A particularly vehement reviewer attacked Think World Religions in an online review: “As a professor of religious studies, I am appalled by this so-called textbook. It packages the world’s religions in order to appeal to students. . . . It substitutes colorful cheesy graphics and photos for substance and depth of real information. Let’s hope this not [sic] an example of the way textbooks will be produced in future.”25 After losing two nights’ sleep over this review, I sent the following response to the reviewer, and subsequently posted it online:

The Transfiguration Polyeleos, Textbooks, and Polyphonic Learning


Professor Fiore is absolutely right—Think World Religions includes text, photographs, charts, graphs, and the news to introduce humanity’s sacred traditions to its readers. By printing in a magazine format, Prentice Hall can keep the price lower than other textbooks while also welcoming students who find big, heavy tomes too intimidating. As the author, I realize that religion doesn’t just include intellectual ideas, but also pictures, places, actions, even smells and colors. I hope that my readers will appreciate and think critically about all these aspects of human life by comparing and contrasting the sacred places, sacred actions, social relationships, and big ideas that I introduce in Think World Religions. After all, I believe that we all learn and live more civilly together if we seek understanding and truth in a dialogue with our neighbors. I hope that Think World Religions can offer a place to start that conversation.26 Finally, I focus on elements of lived religion when introducing students to world religious traditions. This has both personal and social relevance.27 I hope that Think World Religions invites students to their place at the table, asking them to consider how people experience their lives, the sacred, and the community. Are we a little lower than the angels, or rather a spider about to be burned by the fire of divinity? How can people experience the sacred, and how does that affect society? I employ a number of polyvocal techniques to help students wrestle with these ideas. The first edition of Think World Religions, for example, introduces a Chinese Buddhist temple this way: “Stop at the vendor to try a local delicacy, Liang Fen (cold potato noodles with vegetables), then climb a few steps and walk through the massive red doors, quietly into the main hall. Above you, thick wooden supports nestle into one another like Lincoln Logs. But your eye is drawn first to the huge Buddha looking serenely toward you. . . . Finally, look up one more time and you’ll see a mandala painted on the coffered ceiling. It is a spiritual map, to lead you from the world of suffering to one that knows no anguish.”28 In the forthcoming Exploring the Sacred World, I hope to expand my use of polyphonic descriptions of lived religion, while continuing to give equal weight to all of the major Christian traditions. This following passage comes after a description of a young woman and her child taking communion in an Orthodox church:


Roy R. Robson

You can learn a lot about the Eucharist by watching closely. In the most traditional Anglican and Episcopal communities, you’ll experience Mass with all of the bells, chants, incense, and gestures popular 150 years ago in England or Rome. In a Finnish Lutheran church, on the other hand, the service consists mostly of communal singing and Bible reading. You don’t need a priest to prepare communion. People file up the front of the church to take bread from a minister and drink wine from many tiny chalices, each a small version of the one used in the service. In this way, the Finnish church stresses the equality of all Christians (by having identical chalices) while also honoring individuality (by keeping them separate). In many American Protestant congregations, ministers hand out small glasses to people as they sit in the pews. This further highlights the equality of all people while also allowing families to sit together and commune without the ruckus of lining up at the altar. How might that compare to the way people receive communion in the Orthodox and Catholic traditions? In both Think World Religions and Exploring the Sacred World, I examine Christian traditions by moving from east to west. The five patriarchal churches come first, then Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, ending with recent American Christian groups like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; the Church of Christ, Scientist; and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. One prepublication reviewer wrote that “Orthodoxy may get too much time relative to Protestantism,” but another praised the “coverage of Protestant branches, with ‘honorable mention’ of American innovations.” My editors took the difference in opinion as a sign of good balance in the chapter.


The idea of polyphonic learning should be equally appropriate in the secular/public university and in Orthodox Christian institutions and educational settings. Undergraduates may find the experience overwhelming at first, especially if they are used to rote memorization in their other

The Transfiguration Polyeleos, Textbooks, and Polyphonic Learning


classes. (This was a constant problem at my last university, where most students major in pharmacy, physical therapy, and occupation therapy, all of which emphasize memorization.) The extent to which an instructor might want to use the Transfiguration Polyeleos as an introductory example will be conditioned by the kind of institution—I have taught at a Roman Catholic college where students would have immediately responded to the example, but I do not think it would have been successful at the state university where I taught in North Carolina.29 Within Orthodox institutions of higher learning, the Transfiguration Polyeleos should be a highly effective tool to introduce polyphonic learning, and to link liturgical and educational experiences. Many Orthodox Christians find the liturgical cycle a bit bewildering, and for good reason—it does not follow a single thematic format or narrative arc. Instead of trying to simplify the liturgical process for the sake of easy understanding, Orthodox Christians can rejoice in the ways that the Polyeleos calls everyone to have a voice in a transformative experience, no matter the age, gender, language, lay or clerical status, or education. Finally, when world religious traditions are taught in Orthodox educational settings, the polyphonic approach can bear much fruit, where other religions are given a full and rich voice. Alan Wolfe, the distinguished scholar and author at Boston College, has written that “no one approach to the understanding of human beings ought ever to drive all others out of existence.”30 The polyphonic approach offers a structure for learning that reflects Wolfe’s view, and perhaps also undermines the popular view of Orthodoxy as a conservative (if not monolithic) “true belief.” Nevertheless, I would argue that Orthodoxy, especially through its liturgy and iconography, makes its own case for truth-in-dialogue (process) rather than truth-as-monologue (conclusion). It will not hurt Orthodox Christians to learn that Hinduism develops from the interactions among sruti (scripture), smrti (tradition), and puranas (moral narratives). Like the Orthodox Christian, a devout Hindu recognizes the constant and evolving conversation among oral, written, folk, artistic, and ritual phenomena. We can go a step farther by positing that the polyphonic approach can help us to teach in a method appropriate to Orthodox Christian scholars, faithful both to our multiconfessional and to the scriptural injunction that we rightly handle the world of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).


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NOTES 1. For full liturgical texts, see Mother Mary, trans., The Festal Menaion (Waymart, PA: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1990). 2. See, for example, Alexander M. Sidorkin, Beyond Discourse: Education, the Self, and Dialogue (Albany: SUNY Press, 1999); and Anthony N. Gremaud, “Rowan Williams and Mikhail Bakhtin: The Appeal of Polyphony” (MA thesis, University of Western Ontario, 2012). See also Bela H. Benathy and Patrick M. Jenlink, eds., Dialogue as a Means of Collective Communication (New York: Springer Science + Media, Inc., 2005). 3. Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 18. 4. Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), 325–27. 5. Alan Wolfe, “The Potential for Pluralism,” in Religion, Scholarship, and Higher Education: Perspectives, Models, and Future Prospects, ed. Andrea Sterk (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002), 23, 28. Another essay in the same volume introduces Bakhtin as a source for Christian literary criticism. See Roger Lundin, “What We Make of a Diminished Thing,” in Sterk, Religion, Scholarship, and Higher Education, 104–5. 6. “The Cathedral Vigil—Transfiguration of Our Lord,” St. Luke the Evangelist Orthodox Church, http://stlukeorthodox.com/html/liturgicaltexts/ festalmenaions/transfigurationcathedralvigil.cfm. 7. The Prokeimenon is akin to the Gradual in the Western tradition— scriptural lines to introduce the gospel. 8. The classic explanation of the transfiguration icon can be found in Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky, The Meaning of Icons (Boston: Boston Book and Art Shop, 1955), 211–12. 9. Canon for the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ, Second Canon, Ode Three Irmos, trans. Michael Bishop. Text available under the title “Transfiguration of Christ: Appearance of the Kingdom of Heaven,” website of Bishop Alexander (Mileant), translated by Dimitry Baranov and Father German Ciuba, 2001, http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/preob_e.htm. 10. Ramdas Lamb, “Rām Banwās: Searching for Rām in World Religion Textbooks,” International Journal of Hindu Studies 7, no. 1/3 (February 2003), 187, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20106853. 11. For a good overview, see Hani Morgan and David Walker, “Research Report: The Portrayal of the Middle East in Four Current School Textbooks,”

The Transfiguration Polyeleos, Textbooks, and Polyphonic Learning


Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 42, no. 1/2 (2008): 86–87, http://www .jstor.org/stable/23063547. 12. Susan L. Douglass and Ross E. Dunn, “Interpreting Islam in American Schools,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 588 (2003): 70, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1049854. 13. A rare exception can be found in Lawrence Sullivan, ed., Religions of the World: An Introduction to Culture and Meaning (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012), which offers a separate chapter on each of the major trends in Christianity, written by an expert in that area. 14. Lewis M. Hopfe and Mark R. Woodward, Religions of the World, 11th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Vango Books / Pearson Education, 2009), 314. 15. John L. Esposito et al., World Religions Today, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 170. 16. See, for example, Mary Pat Fisher, Living Religions, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2008); and Michael Molloy, Experiencing the World’s Religions, 5th ed. (Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009). 17. Roy R. Robson, Think World Religions, 2nd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall-Pearson, 2013), ix. 18. Ibid., 5. 19. Ibid., 112. 20. One can argue, of course, that football might be considered a religion in itself, not just a proxy. See, for example, Joseph L. Price, ed., From Season to Season: Sports as American Religion (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2001). 21. Robson, Think World Religions, 18. 22. For a thoughtful essay on the use of visual material in teaching, see “Seeing into Being: An Introduction,” in Picturing Russia: Essays on Visual Evidence, ed. Valerie A. Kivelson and Joan Neuberger (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), esp. 6–7. See also Steven Engler and Irene Naested, “Reading Images in the Religious Studies Classroom,” Teaching Theology and Religion 5, no. 3 (2002): 161–68. Among Orthodox scholars, Anton C. Vrame’s work stands out for its integration of iconography and education; I have relied extensively on it. Anton C. Vrame, The Educating Icon: Teaching Wisdom and Holiness in the Orthodox Way (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1999). 23. Vrame, Educating Icon, discusses this idea fully, esp. 49–51. 24. Robson, Think World Religions, 201. 25. J. Fiore, “Slick superficial magazine-like ‘textbook,’” http://www.m .amazon.com/THINK-World-Religions-Roy-Robson/dp/0205773621. 26. Robson, comment under Fiore, “Slick superficial magazine-like ‘textbook,’” http://www.m.amazon.com/THINK-World-Religions-Roy-Robson/ dp/0205773621.


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27. Vrame delineates between the terms “humanity” and “humans,” writing that “humanity, as such, is only an abstraction—a concept. For humanity to exist, it must have a mode of existence—a hypostasis—that applies to specific, identifiable persons.” Vrame, Educating Icon, 65. 28. Roy R. Robson, Think World Religions, 1st ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall-Pearson, 2011), 54. 29. For more on this issue, see Jean Bethke Elshtain, “Does, or Should, Teaching Reflect the Religious Perspective of the Teacher?,” in Sterk, Religion, Scholarship, and Higher Education, 193–201. 30. Alan Wolfe, “The Potential for Pluralism: Religious Responses to the Triumph of Theory and Method in American Academic Culture,” in Sterk, Religion, Scholarship, and Higher Education, 23.




s cott c Airns

When I was about twenty years old, in the thick of college life, I nurtured at least two very strong ambitions: I wanted to become a worthy Christian; I wanted also to be a great writer. For a good while thereafter—the next ten or so years—I also suffered a nagging sense that my two ambitions were somehow in conflict. Every so often, they felt downright antithetical. I wondered, then, if my keenly felt desire to be a great writer—or, frankly, a great anything—wasn’t itself a little sinful. As it happened, just before I left the church of my youth in favor of what I would call a more welcoming body, our pastor himself said as much in the course of his inviting both my brother and me to move along, to find another church. For those reasons, and remembering how unnecessarily isolated I felt when I was wandering about in college, I want to consider the matter of vocation, and to consider also the matter of prayer—which seems to me to be quietly related. Moreover, I hope to consider the way my own vocation as a poet seems to have led me along what might be called, more generally, my spiritual journey. If others’ experiences in any way resemble mine during the course of their upbringing and education, they also might have had a sense of vocation as a calling to service, a circumstance in which the called man or 379


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woman suspects that the Holy Spirit is beckoning him or her to a place where—an occupation by which—his or her talents might be enlisted in the reconciliation of the world. I still think that may be part of it, but I no longer believe that to be the heart of the matter. In an odd sort of corollary, it seems to me that most of my students— when they first come to my classes—have a sense that their poetry is something that they do to serve others, something that they do to share with others certain discoveries they’ve made, opinions they hold, something they do overtly to share what they know. The poems of these beginning students are understood by them, therefore, to be vehicles, simply a means of delivering previously comprehended matter; the purpose of their poems (as well as the purpose of all other poems) is understood as transporting something known from one person to another. Well, it is possible that this transfer of static goods from one mind to another may be one part of poetry’s oblique operations, but I no longer believe such action to be the heart of it. In any case, expressing what one knows is certainly the least interesting part of the process. One of the reasons I first fell in love with poetry was the sense I had that a great poem could not be reduced—or, rather, should not be reduced—to its paraphrase, nor to anyone’s provisional interpretation of its meaning. A great poem is always capable of saying more than we have yet heard from it. That is why we keep poems around, why we read them again, and again. Even one’s own poems—if they are actual poems— present this essential mystery of gazing upon what seems more than one can name. Of course I can speak—now and ever—only for my own experience, but I would say that my poems have taught me far more than they are likely to have taught anyone else. I know that they have led me, albeit in fits and starts, from the childish, besieged and brittle, frankly untenable faith of my youth, through more thoughtful—and more productive— cycles of faith and doubt, and have led me more recently to a relatively more calm, joy-full disposition of a willing, eager, almost giddy apprehension of God’s nearness. To be sure, my poems became Orthodox before I did. That is to say, whatever my poor poems may have said to others— however these poems, off and on, may have served others—they served me first, and they served me in the very process of my making them. They

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led me—word by word, line by line, poem by poem—into suspecting the incomprehensible presence of God, the inexhaustible, and the unrelenting, Love of God. That is, I would suppose, how artists of any art eventually come to understand their undertaking—less as a means by which they communicate something they think they already know, and more as a process by which they come to apprehend what they do not know, perhaps what they can never exactly know, but what—in exhilarating joy—they come to suspect. It is, therefore, very misleading for us to speak of any genuinely literary writing in terms of expression. While our productions may begin with a desire to express some matter glimpsed, the process must become, along the way, must be understood primarily as a way to see, a process of apprehension. Back to vocation, then: I have come to see that a vocation is not so much a chore as it is yet another in an array of countless blessings a loving God pours out upon his beloveds. Granted, when we pursue our vocations, we are serving others, and we are serving God, but I now see that a vocation also is to be understood—primarily understood—as yet another way that God ministers to us, another way that God reveals his love for us, another way that he enables us to glimpse his abiding presence, even as he gives us these particular means by which we may partake of it. It is how he provides us with something substantial, something worthwhile, something necessary to do. Prayer—it seems to me—is a similar gift. And it is one that I must confess I spent most of forty years squandering. I’d say that it was in my fortieth year that I finally began to pray. Most of us suppose that we know a thing or two about prayer (even if prayer has yet to become an unceasing activity). We know that we should pray. We know that prayer should be a daily part of our lives. In terms of models for this behavior, we have surely witnessed countless occasions of “public prayer.” We have, no doubt, spoken countless prayers alone. Regardless, if this disposition of prayer as expression—or worse, as petition merely—is all we know of the matter, we have yet to begin. I remember watching, many years ago, a Dan Rather interview that woke me to my own, long-standing trouble in the acquisition of prayer. Mr. Rather was interviewing Mother Teresa of Calcutta. At one point,


Scott Cairns

Mr. Rather said something like, “Mother Teresa, you’re a woman of prayer; what is it that you say to God when you pray?” Mother Teresa answered, “I don’t say anything. I just listen.” Dan Rather then asked Mother Teresa, “What is it that God says to you during prayer?” Mother Teresa replied, “He doesn’t say anything. He just listens.” Something about that paradox startled me, shocked me by its rightness. I’d say it shocked me awake. For the first time in my life, I had a glimpse of prayer as communion. One of my favorite theological writers, Paul Evdokimov, characterizes the process like this: “It is not enough to say prayers, one must become, be prayer, prayer incarnate. . . . A saint is not a superman, but one who discovers and lives his truth as a liturgical being.”1 I don’t presume to have become a liturgical being, but I would say that I have come to see that such a condition is possible. I have come to see that it is not only possible, but is utterly desirable, and I would say now that it is what each of us is called to become. Virtually all of our liturgies derive from what we in the Eastern Church know as The Divine Liturgy, a prayer service composed of essentially dialogic language—in which a priest or deacon speaks and is answered by the congregation. During the course of that dialogue, it becomes clear that the conversation is not exactly between the clergy and the people, but between the entire gathering and their God. This is a bit harder to glimpse in the Western Church—where the altar has been turned to face the congregation—but, as you know, in the Eastern Church the altar faces the East, and both the priest and the people turn together to address God in worship, a worship that is also known as the prayer, the activity or operation of the church, and most revealingly as “the work of the people.” It is, therefore, our common vocation. The liturgical being, then, is the person whose life becomes a life in conversation—continuous and deliberate—with God. A life in communion. I can guess how a “continuous life of prayer” must register for some readers—as if I’m saying we must each abandon our lives, our loves, our pleasures in order to become some species of monk or nun. Of course, I am not suggesting any such thing. As it happens, I spend a good bit of

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time each year with monks, and while I admire their particular martyrdom I am fairly certain that their life is not one to which I have been called—thank God. In any case, however, I am suggesting that our lives, our loves, our pleasures all be pursued in the presence of God. Of course, they are—all of them—pursued in his presence in any event. The issue here is that the one who has made prayer her life becomes increasingly conscious of God’s presence, increasingly conscious both in terms of frequency and degree. She comes increasingly to attend to that holy presence even as that holy presence unceasingly attends to her. Back to poetry for a moment: my Christian students tend, at first, to see their poems as opportunities to proselytize others in the community, or, at least, others in the class, or—quite often—me. Students of a more secular bent tend, at first, to see their poems as opportunities to correct certain political blindnesses suffered by the community, by the others in the class, or by me. As I’ve suggested, vocation—it lately occurs to me—is primarily a gift to the called. It is a blessing, a particular means by which the called man or woman will thereafter apprehend the subtle realities of creation and its relation to its Creator. Once we accept this gift, we are less likely to perceive a vocation—any vocation—simply as a means by which a man or woman expresses something already known. Some of us may be poets, some of us may be musicians, some of us may be painters, or sculptors, or pursuing any number of arts. Perhaps some of us are thinking—have been persuaded to think—that any such artistic pursuit is not altogether expedient, or that any such pursuit is in keeping with our faith only insofar as it is directly, dogmatically—one might say, apologetically—tied to an expression of the faith, only insofar as it serves to encourage that faith in others. More likely, some of us may have been persuaded to think that the pursuit itself is more than a little selfish, and justifiable only as a hobby. I want to suggest another take on the matter; I want to insist that the pursuit of art actually does become worthless when it is pursued as a hobby, that the pursuit of art also becomes worthless when it is pursued as evangelical apologia, and that the pursuit of art becomes utterly worthless when it is reduced to being the expression of what we know, or of what we think we know.


Scott Cairns

Rather, I want to insist that the pursuit of art becomes vocation only when it is understood as a discipline, as devotion to a way—the medium of language, or of sound, or pigment, or clay, or fabric, the stuff of one’s art—a devotion to a medium, a craft, whose pursuit leads the artist into making something worthy of attention. If our constructions are sufficiently well made, they may prove worthy, moreover, even of repeated attention, becoming scenes of ongoing meaning-making for ourselves and for others. We must not fear that our wholehearted pursuit of vocation will lead us away from our duty to God, to family, to community. On the contrary, wholehearted pursuit of vocation manifests a mature faith, genuinely trusting in the God who has called us. Wholehearted pursuit of vocation enables us concurrently to pursue, and fearlessly, our duty to God, to family, to community. In this light, vocation comes to be understood less as a line of work, and more as a mode of being, less as an expression of what is known, and more as a way of knowing, less as something done to deliver a message to others, and more as a way God reveals to us who we are, who he is, how we are—all of us—connected. And prayer? Similarly, I’m starting to suspect the degree to which prayer is a condition of being, rather than a momentary expression. I’m beginning to see that prayer is a mode of life, a developing awareness of our being always and ever in the presence of God. I generally resist the temptation to blur distinctions between poetry and prayer. Still, given the fact that such blurring continues to come up in conversation—both inside and outside the classroom—the relationship between these two activities may warrant further attention. One difference between my poetry and my prayer is—at least to me—fairly obvious: when I pray, I am confident that I have an audience. Regardless, whereas poetry is necessarily a public utterance, prayer is an essentially personal utterance, an intimate contact between persons. Even so, poetry and prayer are similar. They appear to share a number of substantive qualities. Both have been characterized as arts, which is to say, I suppose, that both can be done well, or less well. The degree to which they are done well is manifestly enhanced when these practices are understood as just that, as practices, as disciplines. The more time one puts into

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them, the more accomplished one becomes, and the more efficacious the result. Moreover, I think that accomplishment in prayer, like accomplishment in poetry or in any art, has to do finally with attaining a habit of attention, attention of an increasingly powerful, revelatory sort. A poet’s poems help her see what could not be otherwise seen. A person’s prayer helps him to hear what cannot be otherwise heard. So, what is it that we are to do? With our work, our relationships, our lives, our prayer? Take them seriously, I suppose. Honor each as having intrinsic, substantive value of itself, and honor each as partaking of the real, the holy. Honor each moment of our lives as if our choices mattered, as if the art we make—the people we face, our every response—is participating in powerful, invisible ways with the present, collaboratively shaping the future. The future isn’t written yet, and a great deal is riding on how fully or how poorly we—through our vocations—become like Christ. Get busy.




Now something about language, something specific to the word: just over twenty years ago, I had a vision. Nothing extreme, no fanfare, not any voices, just a very quiet, life-changing vision. I was working on a poem2 in my upstairs study, from which, if I had been looking out the plate-glass window instead of poring over a yellow legal pad, I would have been able to see the entirety of Salt Lake City, its lights sparkling over a blanket of spring snow as evening settled in. Whether the experience was brought about by a fortunate ratio of caffeine and nicotine or by some more becoming agency, I could not say for sure. What I can say is that, as I pored over the words on the page, pressing them letter by letter onto the yellow paper with a fresh, number two pencil, they attained—for the briefest of moments—an appalling, three-dimensional, nearly sculptural affect. They seemed, albeit briefly, to rise from the page as if they had been chipped from stone. This didn’t last for long, and I have never had the experience again. Still, the sensation that accompanied the event is ever-available to me. The memory of those letters attaining the status of objects remains everat-hand. Suffice to say, that ever-at-hand memory—that image of those letters solidifying on the page—has changed forever my attitude towards what words are, what words do.


Scott Cairns

Prior to this moment, my writing habits and my attitude towards my poems had been fairly commonplace. Like most of my friends at the time, my peers, and even most of my poetry professors, I had assumed that the job of the poet was more or less to pursue heightened experiences, and to write these down, to transcribe them in a manner that offered a similar experience to others. I had thought that my job was, more than anything else, a matter of expressing what I had lived and learned, making available to others some insight I had acquired along the way. The poems, therefore, were documents of past experience, and the words—being primarily referential in their operation—were simply the vehicles to haul those goods from me to, for instance, you. Following that odd moment in the upper room, my writing habits and my attitude towards my poems changed utterly, and, as I say, forever. If, for instance, you were to compare my first poetry collection to any that followed it, you would notice that the poems in every volume since then operate in a very different way, and they are shaped so as to invite the reader herself to operate in a very different way. Whereas my earliest poems operate more or less as documents of lived or imagined experience, I like to think that the poems from my second book onward operate otherwise. I like to think that they are more likely to insist on the reader’s participation in making something of them—making something with them. This thinking, then, has led me to appreciate what most would call a sacramental vision of the world, and has led me to what I’ve come to call a sacramental poetics, or, better yet, a mystical poetics. I will leave to others the wooing of theology back to its apophatic, its parabolic and poetic home, and will attend primarily to courting poetry back to that fruitful dwelling these two once shared. I would argue that any text duly dubbed as a poetic text must allow the reader to entertain certain—if not necessarily all—of the words themselves as virtually sculptural matter, as opacities to be observed and engaged (rather than as transparencies to be moved through). That text must allow the reader to perceive suggestive ambiguities, textual openings, as implicative lacunae, as invitations to collaborate. It must provoke a sense of the words of the page not merely serving simply as names for things, but as actual things, even as powerful things,

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things having agency, generative and, as I like to suppose, regenerative agency. So, when I say sacramental or mystical poetics, the condition I hope to provoke is very nearly that of a redundancy. That is to say that the poetic really cannot exist without an appreciation of how endlessness is glimpsed within the local moment, the immediate occasion. I won’t presume to undertake a theologian’s discourse on sacramental theology itself, but I have come to suspect that within this discourse, at even its simplest level, rests an understanding—an essential distinction—that will prove useful to any general discussion of what poetry can be, and useful to any specific critique of what contemporary American poetry very often is not. Throughout Christendom, both historically and at present, the church’s central mystical rite, eucharistic communion, has been and continues to be variously apprehended—by those who celebrate it as well as by those who do not. And while I am quite confident that this rite is of a species of phenomena (that is, mystery) that is never to be actually understood, I might offer two examples of how it is discussed, trusting that by these examples I might better indicate my sense of what I mean by the poetic, and what I mean when I say that I sense a connection between mystērion and the poetic. Allow me to offer a disturbing analogy. When I was a child attending Baptist church in Tacoma, Washington, we spoke of the matter rather simply as “The Lord’s Supper.” Along with this gesture, we rather pointedly characterized that monthly communion as a solemn meal shared, and, I think, deliberately emphasized its primarily retrospective, its commemorative activity. My own understanding of that communion service was roughly this: once a month, we shared grape juice, which reminded us of Christ’s shed blood, and we chewed and swallowed tiny squares of hard cracker, which reminded us of Christ’s broken body. Neither the juice nor the cracker was, of itself, mysterious, though both may have served as signs directing the mind to a very great mystery. These days, most “poems” I come across in a given week seem to work that way too. Their words point to an event, or to a stilled moment, or to a sentiment, which, mysterious as it may have been, remains an occasion distinct from the “poem” and its language. In most cases, then, the


Scott Cairns

poem serves as the cracker, prepared so as to be ingested in order that the mind might thereby be directed to another, more real event, an event whose import and whose agency are always, necessarily, fixed in the past. The poetic, however, is something else: it is an occasion of immediate and observed—which is to say, present—presence; it is an occasion of ongoing, generative agency. As one might gather, this is a condition that is far more suggestive of eucharistic communion as it is understood and performed in the Eastern Church and in those elements of the Western Church that embrace what they would call a sacramental theology. The wine becomes the mystical blood of Jesus Christ and the bread becomes his mystical body. One might be satisfied to say that the elements symbolize those realities, if only one could recover that word’s ancient sense of mutual participation, if only our word symbol hadn’t been diminished over the centuries to serving as a synonym for sign. At any rate, as we partake of those mysteries, we are in the present presence of Very God of Very God dipped into our mouths on a spoon, and we partake, incrementally, in his entire and indivisible being. Moreover, we are by that agency changed, made more like him, bearing—as we now do—his creative and re-creative energies in our sanctified persons. This is appalling, and it serves to exemplify what I would call the poetic: the presence and activity of inexhaustible, indeterminate enormity apprehended in a discrete space. Whether a literary work occurs in prose or verse, whether it is also characterized as fiction, as nonfiction, or as drama, whether or not it may also support additional, extratextual narratives or propositions, it is poetic to the extent that it occasions further generation—to the extent, in other words, that it bears fruit. One can hardly read a passage of Virgil or of Dante (or certain poems of Dickinson, Eliot, Frost, Stevens, or Bishop, etc.) without experiencing a responsive flight of the imagination; if the reader is also a poet, that flight may well result in a responsive (or, as George Steiner might say, a therefore critically responsible) poem;3 if the reader is also a scholar, that flight may well result in a similarly cocreative reading that provides the occasion for rich and enriching readings thereafter. Like the holy mysteries, then, poems—if they are truly poems—have agency, bear energy, are concerned more with making something with and of the observer than they are concerned with referring her to a past

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event, to a proposition, or to any previously discovered, previously circumscribed matter. Like the holy mysteries, then, the poetic is involved with communication—not, however, in the sense that that word has become misunderstood as the unidirectional passing along of information, but rather, in the sense that something of each communicant is shared with the other, and necessarily in the sense that new creation is the desired result. Like the holy mysteries, then, the poetic is utterly involved with presence, not merely its history, but also its currency, and its continuing, life-giving current, its influence. To the extent that its activity moves (or, better, flows) along our temporal plane, that activity will be more accurately understood as moving forward than as moving back. All of this is simply to insist that, when we speak of vocation, when we speak of poetry, when we speak of prayer, we miss a great deal, and we suffer a regrettable diminishment, if we fail to understand each of these phenomena as occasions of his continuing blessing. Each of these becomes thin soup if we suppose they are merely activities of the creature serving, expressing, or addressing the Creator; they manifest their true purpose when we discover them to be activities by which he blesses us, by which he educes from us an apprehension of his constant and exceeding love.

NOTES 1. Paul Evdokimov, The Sacrament of Love, trans. Anthony P. Gythiel and Victoria Steadman (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985), 61–63. 2. The poem, as it happens, was “Mortuary Art,” from Figures for the Ghost (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994), 52–53. The line in question: “Even the ancient, open gate, whose hinges may / as well be stone . . .” 3. George Steiner, Real Presences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 8.




F AI T H AN D L E A RN IN G I N H I G H E R E D U CA T ION Historical Reflections for Contemporary Challenges

A ndreA s terk

It was an honor to be asked to contribute to this volume as a relative outsider to the Orthodox tradition. Before offering my reflections, it will be helpful to situate myself and say something about the aim of my comments. Although not myself Orthodox, I have been very much influenced by the Orthodox tradition. In my thinking as a historian of Christianity I have particularly benefited from the work of Father Georges Florovsky and Father John Meyendorff, among other prominent Orthodox historians and theologians. With regard to pedagogical experience, I have had the privilege to teach in a variety of institutional settings: a Presbyterian seminary, a small Christian liberal arts college, a Catholic university, and now in a history department at the second of two large public research universities. I am aware of the diversity of institutions and departments in which Orthodox and other Christian scholars teach, but my remarks will be especially geared to those who teach or do their scholarship in (or for) a largely secular academic context—although I trust my reflections will 393


Andrea Sterk

be relevant to a broader audience of Christian academics. Indeed, while John McGuckin began this volume with an appeal for pan-Orthodox engagement and collaboration in the cause of higher education, I would like to go a step further. I hope that my unique position as a relative outsider can help Orthodox scholars consider their own tradition from a fresh perspective and engage with the wider Christian community of scholars from which they may learn and to which they have so much to offer. Admittedly, I am neither an expert on higher education nor an Orthodox Christian, but rather a fellow pilgrim in this journey through the academic life. Thus, my reflections, both historical and practical, are intended to spur further thought and discussion among scholars in the broader Christian community.


My reflections begin not with history but with the contemporary situation of the academy in the twenty-first century. What are some of the major challenges that academics—teachers and scholars, believers as well as unbelievers—face in the first quarter of this century? Some of the intellectual challenges arise primarily from within the academic milieu. Others are social and economic challenges largely imposed from outside the academy, but they have just as serious ramifications and are just as important for our consideration as academics—especially academics of religious conviction—as the intellectual challenges we face. For many committed Christian scholars—especially for those who work in the humanities—perhaps the most obvious challenge that comes to mind is postmodernism, though I hesitate to use this as a monolithic term. Indeed, in books on religion and higher education that have proliferated in the past generation, postmodernism, alongside secularism, has often been posed as the whipping boy of Christian academics. Thankfully, a few recent works have taken a different tack, viewing postmodern influence as an opportunity as well as a challenge.1 To be sure, the deconstruction of texts and meaning, an emphasis on subjectivity and the contingency of all truth, pose obvious challenges to Christian scholars. Many

Faith and Learning in Higher Education


Orthodox academics have ignored postmodernism, though some have responded positively by embracing some of its methodological perspectives while at the same time affirming the reality and complexity of Christian metanarrative.2 Other Christian scholars have also found constructive ways to negotiate the labyrinth of postmodern approaches to their disciplines, incorporating relevant insights while eschewing certain underlying foundational assumptions about truth.3 It is certainly important to recognize that postmodern thinking undergirds many of the structures of our institutions of higher education and affects the undergraduate curriculum as a whole. Particularly disturbing for many is the emphasis on fragmentation, bricolage, a lack of methodology in the various disciplines. A good example of the eclecticism that characterizes much postmodern scholarship is the work of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, though he is not, strictly speaking, a postmodernist. A review in the Times Literary Supplement several years ago described his books as disheveled collages of ideas, ranging from Kant to computer science, St. Augustine to Agatha Christie. There seems to be nothing in heaven or earth that is not grist to his intellectual mill. One digression spawns another until the author seems as unclear as the reader about what he was suppose to be arguing. . . . In typically postmodern style, his work leaps impudently over the frontiers between high and popular culture, swerving in the course of a paragraph from Kierkegaard to Mel Gibson. Trained as a philosopher in Ljubljana and Paris, he is a film buff, psychoanalytical theorist, amateur theologian and political analyst.4 The description of his work continues at length in much the same vein. If Žižek himself is “a strenuous thinker” and his books “lucid in style,” with “prose that is crisp and consumer friendly,” as the reviewer affirms, the same certainly cannot be said of much that passes as postmodern scholarship today. While an emphasis on interdisciplinarity has certainly enriched scholarship in the humanities and social sciences in recent years, one wonders how the emphasis on fragmentation has affected teaching and learning when placed in the hands of less astute or less well-trained academics, not to mention their disciples.


Andrea Sterk

The postmodern emphasis on fragmentation coincides with a broader trend and perhaps a more pernicious threat to the academy, namely the lack of cohesiveness in higher education. As some have put it, in our increasingly narrow areas of specialization we have gradually shifted from the notion of a university to a multiversity. Despite paying lip service to interdisciplinarity in many institutions, the disciplines remain fragmented and nothing really ties them together. We have lost the idea that various branches of knowledge ought to cohere, and alarmingly, in some of our universities almost as much as in our broader culture, we have lost the value and even the notion of the humanities altogether. There is no standard definition of what they are, and as James Turner has most recently argued in his important study of the development of the humanities, we have “forgotten” the common origins of the disciplines many of us teach.5 A second challenge we face as academics is the diminishing role of higher education in society at large. The university is clearly taken much less seriously than it once was. While bemoaning the “decline” of the secular university is surely counterproductive, it is hard to deny the changing status of higher education in the United States.6 Universities are becoming marginalized in terms of their influence in American society. They do not provide the leadership in politics and culture that they once did, and even in the sciences universities increasingly hire their labs out to business and government with the goal of gaining patents. The emphasis on STEM disciplines in the past decade may be seen as an attempt to regain for universities a more prominent national role, but it has come at the expense of programs in the humanities and social sciences that were once considered foundational and central to the university’s mission. Yet, as Turner has noted, “natural scientists have in the past proved far nimbler than humanists in adapting disciplinary boundaries to emerging problems.”7 There has also been a shift toward vocational and professional education rather than the traditional liberal arts curriculum. Perhaps the decreasing status of the university in American society is one of the reasons that higher education, especially public education, has been so hard hit by the economic crises of our day. This leads to a related challenge to the academy in the opening decades of the twenty-first century, namely financial strains and their effects. While many public as well as private universities and colleges have been

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affected by the general economic decline, the university at which I taught for thirteen years has been particularly hard hit. In 2008 the University of Florida faced a $47 million budget cut. A large percentage of the cuts were taken from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and most of these cuts were in the humanities. Graduate programs were temporarily suspended (including philosophy), departments such as German and French were merged into a department of modern languages, and many staff and some untenured faculty were laid off—all of these in the humanities and primarily in languages. Yet the university also announced that it had made these difficult decisions without jeopardizing “the core mission of the university,” a statement which left many of the faculty bewildered. The situation continued to deteriorate, with the governor’s now famous statement in a 2011 interview with the Herald Tribune that he hoped to divert more “tax dollars” toward STEM disciplines rather than “educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology”; this was soon followed with a proposal in 2013 for “differentiated tuition,” which would require higher tuition for students pursuing degrees in the humanities and social sciences, that is, in majors with little return on investment.8 While the downward spiral has been checked and the budget situation seemingly stabilized, there is no long-term solution to these strains in sight; and we need to be aware of such trends and prepared to respond to them in our particular institutional settings. Some of these challenges are unique to the United States in the twenty-first century, but questions of how Christians should view learning and the very purpose of higher education have long been issues of debate among scholars. So, how might we as Christian scholars and teachers respond to these and other challenges facing higher education in our day? Before considering some models from the past, I would like to highlight three types of responses that are fairly typical—both today and throughout history: The first is a response of antagonism. This is a typical response of some evangelical scholars who lament the “decline” of the secular university or pose an us/them dichotomy with regard to Christians and the academy. But this is not just an evangelical mind-set. There are many examples of Christian scholars throughout history expressing antagonism toward the ideals if not specific institutions of higher education.


Andrea Sterk

Tertullian is typical of such a response in his famous diatribe, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Similarly, one might point to the tension between the so-called rigorists (most often monks) and the laxists (most often scholars) in Byzantine history. The rigorists, of course, were characterized by a more antagonistic response to higher education. At times Christians expressed more of a caution than an antagonism toward pagan culture. Saint Basil, for example, considered the ancient classics as part and parcel of an educated Christian’s formation but was careful to warn: “You should not surrender to these men once for all the rudders of your mind.”9 In general, however, the Orthodox tradition has had a relatively positive outlook on learning. A second response is withdrawal. Withdrawal comes in various forms and is perhaps a more widespread response among Christian academics. In some cases, we carefully frame our scholarly subjects to avoid controversy, perhaps publishing only in “safe” journals. For others, withdrawal is not as much a retreat from challenging intellectual ideas as a withdrawal from administrative work, decision making, the petty debates and rivalries that mark our departments or our educational institutions as a whole. We want to crawl into our shells and pursue our own scholarly agendas, our own work, and leave the fighting to others. Still others withdraw from any kind of potential disagreement with colleagues, wary of letting anyone know they may have a point of view that is shaped by their Christian faith. My guess is that the tendency among Orthodox scholars is not as much to be antagonistic toward the secular university as to withdraw, or perhaps to dichotomize academic vocation and the Christian or ecclesiastical sphere of life. A final and, I would argue, the healthiest response to challenges we face in higher education is thoughtful engagement. There are many different forms of engagement, and not every Christian scholar can or should respond to the challenges of the academy in the same way. Before we think further about what forms Christian engagement might take in the twenty-first century, I want to introduce three models of engagement from history—scholar-teachers from the third to the tenth century. I should also say that one thing history teaches us is that the past is messy. Father Florovsky spoke of the “dust of small facts” that confound our orderly vision of “fixed characters” or “typical individuals.”10 None of the examples I present here are completely virtuous or heroic, nor do their

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careers correspond neatly with those of our own academic world. In fact, two of the three may seem a bit odd. But I hope to draw from these different types of Christian engagement with education in very different contexts a few thoughts that might serve as an impetus to further reflection and discussion, if not as models for emulation in our own educational settings. HISTORICAL MODELS OF ENGAGEMENT

Origen of Alexandria: The Challenge of Scholarship

My earliest historical example of a Christian scholar engaging the intellectual life of his era is probably the most well known: Origen of Alexandria, the most important theologian of the third century and one of the great Christian thinkers of all time. If one had to choose an ancient Christian scholar who best counters the tendency toward overspecialization in our day—embodying both the “imbrication” and the “integration” of faith and learning as well as the cohesiveness of education—it would certainly be Origen. A brilliant scholar and a polymath, Origen could work in almost any field far better than most others could work in one! Regarding theology, he was a one-man divinity school; he seems to have invented some disciplines that are now regular parts of advanced theological education. But permeating all of Origen’s scholarly work was a concern to make the Christian faith intellectually relevant and convincing to outsiders. Alexandria was one of the great centers of learning in antiquity, famous from Hellenistic times for its great library and renowned as a center of literary and philosophical studies. There was also an important Jewish community there. Origen benefited from both settings—the intellectual and the Jewish—in constructing his theology. Raised in a Christian family, Origen had a great love for the Bible and devoted his life to its interpretation. But he was also trained in Greek philosophy and tried to relate philosophy, especially Platonism, to his study of the Bible. Using the metaphor of the Israelites “spoiling the Egyptians,” Origen believed Christian intellectuals should take the best of pagan learning and apply it to the study of scripture and theology. Writing to his own student and disciple, Gregory Thaumaturgus, Origen counseled:


Andrea Sterk

Your natural aptitude is sufficient to make you a consummate Roman lawyer and a Greek philosopher too of the most famous schools. But my desire for you has been that you should direct the whole force of your intelligence to Christianity as your end. . . . I wish to ask you to extract from the philosophy of the Greeks what may serve as a course of study or a preparation for Christianity, and from geometry and astronomy what will serve to explain the sacred Scriptures, in order that all that the children of the philosophers are wont to say about geometry and music, grammar, rhetoric, and astronomy, as fellow-helpers to philosophy, we may say about philosophy itself, in relation to Christianity.11 Origen was also one of the few Christians of his day who were taken seriously as thinkers or philosophers even by pagan intellectuals. The leading Neoplatonic philosopher, Porphyry, wrote specifically about Origen in his treatise Against the Christians. In a sense he accused Origen of being too philosophical, of stealing the great philosophical ideas of Plato and inappropriately applying them to Christianity—which Porphyry considered an unreasonable and lowly set of teachings. Describing Origen, the pagan philosopher Porphyry wrote: For this man [Origen], having been a student of Ammonius, who had attained the greatest proficiency in philosophy of any in our day, derived much benefit from his teacher in the knowledge of the sciences; but as to the correct choice of life, he pursued a course opposite to his. . . . Origen, having been educated as a Greek in Greek literature, went over to the barbarian recklessness [Christianity]. And carrying over the learning which he had obtained, he hawked it about, in his life conducting himself as a Christian and contrary to the laws, but in his opinions of material things and of the Deity being like a Greek, and mingling Grecian teachings with foreign fables. For he was continually studying Plato, and he busied himself with the writings of Numenius and Cronius . . . and those famous among the Pythagoreans. And he used the books of Chaeremon the Stoic, and of Cornutus. Becoming acquainted through them with the figurative interpretation of the Grecian mysteries, he applied it to the Jewish Scriptures.12

Faith and Learning in Higher Education


If Origen were alive and an active academic today, how might Porphyry’s accusation read? I have attempted a possible reconstruction of such a text: For this man, having been a student of Stanley Fish, who attained the greatest proficiency in literary criticism of any in our day, derived much benefit from his teacher in the knowledge of literature and culture; but as to the correct choice of life, he pursued a course opposite to his. . . . Origen, having been educated at Duke and Chicago in philosophy and literary theory, went over to Christian pursuits. And carrying over the learning he had obtained, he used it unashamedly, in his life conducting himself as a Christian and contrary to the philosophical ideals of our day, but in his opinions about literature and epistemology, being like a postmodernist, and mingling sophisticated poststructural ideas with simplistic religious beliefs. For he was continually studying Foucault, and he busied himself with the writings of Richard Rorty and Jürgen Habermas as well as those famous among the structuralists and poststrucutralists. And he used the writings of Derrida and Levinas. Becoming acquainted through them with the deconstructionist reading of texts he applied what he learned to his study of the Christian Scriptures. This description is meant to be amusing, of course, but it also makes a point. In certain Christian circles today, if a secular academic were to describe a Christian professor in this way, many believers would be skeptical about the scholar’s faith. Yet Origen was a prime example of the attempt of a Christian scholar to make the faith comprehensible and compelling in the Greco-Roman intellectual world of the third century. Although deeply rooted in and committed to scripture, Origen was eager to learn from and incorporate the best philosophical ideas of his day to help interpret the Bible and explain Christian truths both to the church and to non-Christian intellectual colleagues. It is well known that some of Origen’s ideas got him into trouble 150 years later when a major controversy arose over the “orthodoxy” of some of his teachings. This brings us to a negative example of the use of learning in the Christian tradition and a very ugly fight among Christian intellectuals: the Origenistic controversy. In any case, even many theologians who condemned Origen were tremendously influenced by his writings on


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the Bible and theology. Origen had thoroughly learned the subject matter and discourse of the intellectual world of his day; and he was unafraid to engage and even incorporate some of these ideas. Because of this engagement he was respected (albeit grudgingly) by pagan intellectuals and was better able to help Christians understand their faith and respond to intellectual challenges facing the church. Embodying the integration of Christian faith with diverse branches of knowledge, Origen also stands for the cohesiveness of learning and as a counterexample to the trend toward ever narrower specialization. For my next example, I wanted to discuss Basil of Caesarea or the Cappadocian Fathers, who wrote about the place of learning in the education of Christian youth. Particularly relevant to the theme of faith and higher education in Basil’s writings is his ambivalence regarding the purpose of education, reflecting a broader debate among intellectuals of his age.13 We should bear in mind that in their context learning focused on philosophy and its accompanying self-discipline, together with literature and grace of style. The dispute focused on the relative merits of study or learning for its own sake, on the one hand, and of education placed at the service of public life, on the other. This issue continues to be debated in our own academic world, and it is a subject Orthodox theologians might want to address from the wealth of the Orthodox tradition in ways that engage the university today. Yet while both Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus were recipients of a classical education in philosophy and rhetoric, neither of them served in the kind of setting in which many, if not most, Christian scholars find themselves today, that is, in a largely pagan or what we might today call “secular” academic environment. Thus, I have chosen to focus on someone much less famous than Origen or the Cappadocians but whose career more closely fits this setting in the late ancient world. He was a Christian teacher of rhetoric named Prohaeresius, one of the teachers of Basil and Gregory in Athens.14 Prohaeresius and the Vicissitudes of Academic Life

Not much is known about Prohaeresius’s youth or Christian upbringing. Most of what we know about him is from a single source, Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists, by the pagan Eunapius, who was for a time a stu-

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dent of Prohaeresius.15 Due to scant sources, some of my observations about him may be a bit speculative; nor do I wish to propose Prohaeresius as a new Christian saint for academics. Nonetheless, I would like to suggest that we can learn something from his career about the intersection of academic and political life in the late Roman Empire and about how a Christian might fare when engaged in a largely pagan academic setting— whether in the ancient or the modern world. Despite his family’s poverty, Prohaeresius, an Armenian by birth, eventually made his way to Athens to continue his studies along with his friend Hephaestion. Little is known of his student days, but Eunapius tells us that Prohaeresius and Hephaestion were “devoted friends and rivaled one another in their poverty.”16 Indeed, in one of his many anecdotes Eunapius says they were so poor that they had only one threadbare set of clothes between them (one thinks of typical graduate students today), so they could attend classes only on alternate days. Prohaeresius studied under the leading sophist in Athens in the early fourth century, Julian of Cappadocia, and became his teacher’s foremost pupil. When Julian died around 330, there was considerable contention for his endowed chair. Here we get a glimpse of the internal and external political dimensions of higher education in late antiquity—for pagans as well as Christians— which are perhaps not so far removed from some of the situations we face today. Though Julian of Cappadocia had favored Prohaeresius and even given him his house and hence control of his school, Julian’s chair was a public teaching post and therefore not his to give. Such an endowed chair included a stipend, exemption from certain taxes and duties, and considerable prestige, so many contenders vied for the post. The decision for such a chair was usually made by the city council after a review of the applicants, and in this case, the council elected six finalists. Each finalist was required to give a declamation (a kind of “job talk”) before an audience that included the governor of the province, who would make the final decision. According to Eunapius, Prohaeresius and his friend and fellow countryman Hephaestion were the strongest contenders at this stage, but Hephaestion withdrew from the competition and left Athens. At this point it seems that the other job candidates, jealous of Prohaeresius’s growing influence in Athens and his success in recruiting students, bribed the governor and drove him out of town in the late 330s.


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If local university politics drove Prohaeserius temporarily into exile, it was imperial politics that eventually enabled him to return to the city. This time his Christianity was probably an asset to his career. Having been ousted from Athens, Prohaeresius made his way to the West, where, according to Edward Watts, he stood out among the Latin-speaking elites under Emperor Constans’s rule. At a time when many educated pagans were still skeptical of Christianity as an intellectual force, not unlike most academics in our own day, an esteemed Christian rhetor like Prohaeresius could be used to bolster “the intellectual credentials of the new faith.”17 Eunapius, a convinced pagan, would be unlikely to say this directly; nor does it seem that Prohaeserius would have sought or desired this status as a kind of Christian intellectual “showpiece” in the West—a Christian Athenian teacher of rhetoric. But this seems to be how he was used by Constans.18 Eunapius tells us that a new proconsul in Athens eventually recalled Prohaeresius to the city and was able to offer him a publicly funded chair “because the emperor was supportive.” The next year Constans invited Prohaeresius to his court in Gaul and then to Rome to give declamations “since he [Constans] was ambitious to show what sort of men he ruled over.”19 So we see that affirmative action could work for as well as against Christians—in what was still a largely pagan academic world. Now that he was backed by imperial favor, the next phase of Prohaeresius’s career in Athens was much more secure. He continued to attract to his school large numbers of both pagan and Christian students. While he had good connections throughout Asia Minor that enabled him to recruit students, which was critical to any school’s success, his reputation for teaching was also a major factor behind his popularity. Though he is publicly identified as a Christian teacher of rhetoric in several texts, we have no evidence that Prohaeresius tried to incorporate Christian ideas into his scholarship. Eunapius refers repeatedly to his rhetorical skill, but there are no extant speeches of Prohaeresius that might reveal how he addressed religious ideas in his oratory. At least one interpreter has suggested that he treated traditional pagan themes as allegories and that his declamations on historical themes “could largely avoid religious ideas.”20 Others have surmised that he likely made little impact as a Christian since, among other factors, Gregory and Basil studied under him but make no mention of his influence.

Faith and Learning in Higher Education


Before we quickly dismiss Prohaeresius as an ineffectual Christian academic, however, a few points warrant clarification. His career was at its height in the 330s and 340s, when Christianity was just beginning to penetrate in significant ways the Roman intellectual world. While there had been brilliant theologians like Origen before him, Prohaeresius was one of very few Christians in this era to be teaching in a primarily pagan milieu in a pagan institution. (Origen had headed the catechetical school in Alexandria, so he was primarily teaching believers.) Also, Prohaeresius was not a theologian but a teacher of rhetoric, and needless to say, there were not many models of Christians attempting to “integrate” their faith with the teaching of classical rhetoric. Moreover, by the time Basil and Gregory were studying in Athens, Prohaeresius was close to eighty years old, and likely much, if not all, of the teaching of his school had passed to his assistants; and as Neil McLynn has recently suggested, it is likely that at least some of his inner circle of students who served in this capacity were Christians.21 So it is perhaps unfair to judge him too harshly for not being more innovative or influential as a Christian scholar. Prohaeresius was certainly known by both students and colleagues to be a Christian, and his pagan student Eunapius, who wrote his Life, speaks highly of his integrity and character as well as his brilliance in rhetoric. Moreover, Gregory of Nazianzus, though he does not describe Prohaeresius’s personal influence in great detail, wrote an epitaph to honor the teacher.22 Yet if we have doubts about the depth of his Christian commitment, a final episode should dispel them. The last stage of Prohaeresius’s career brings us back into the politics of academic life, for it was marked by the famous decree of the pagan emperor Julian the Apostate essentially forbidding Christians to teach the classical curriculum. While Constans had favored Prohaeresius and furthered his career, Constantius II ignored him; but the pagan emperor Julian was strongly ill-disposed to the Christian rhetor. It seems surprising, then, that when Julian placed his ban on Christian teachers, he offered Prohaeresius an exemption. This move, however, was calculated to appear as an act of compassion toward Christians while still promoting Julian’s own pagan objectives. Watts astutely captures Prohaeresius’s dilemma in the face of the emperor’s decree: he could either “keep teaching and break ranks with other Christian professors,” or he could step down, thereby furthering Julian’s intended aim to make the schools better able to promote paganism.23 Along with other


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Christian professors, most notably Marius Victorinus in Rome, who served as an important model for Saint Augustine, Prohaeresius resigned his position. As Jerome recorded in his Chronicle, “The Athenian sophist abandoned his school of his own accord after the enactment of the law which forbade Christians from teaching the liberal arts. This was in spite of the fact that Julian had made an exception for him so he could teach as a Christian.”24 Emperor Jovian overturned Julian’s law several months later, so Prohaeresius was soon able to resume teaching and the leadership of his school—which he apparently did until his death in 366 at the age of ninety. In Prohaeresius’s career we find several elements that are useful for further reflection. First, we encounter a highly competent scholar known to be a Christian in a largely “secular” academic setting, one who was praised by both pagans and Christians, even if he did not actively seek to “integrate” Christian thought with his teaching of rhetoric. Second, we see a victim of the vicissitudes of academic as well as imperial politics— reminding us that our situation as Christians in the secular academic world is not unique and that whatever opposition or problems we face may have little to do with a general hostility toward Christian faith. And third, we meet a Christian academic who was unwilling to compromise his Christian commitment under pressure. Teachers among the Slavs: Collaboration and Community

A final example of engagement, much more familiar to most Orthodox Christians, is that of a group of scholar-teachers who worked in a very different milieu from either a catechetical school or a university. These men are all associated with Byzantine missions to the Slavs, but I would like to single out their work as teachers. In my brief survey of a very complex political and ecclesiastical narrative, it is especially the communal dimension of their mission as educators—their teamwork—that I want to emphasize. The story of Slavic missions did not start in east-central or southeastern Europe but rather in Constantinople in the second half of the ninth century. One of the major factors contributing to the outburst of missionary fervor that characterized this period in Byzantine history was a revival

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of learning and education connected with the great scholar and churchman Photius. A great lover of learning, he promoted humanist as well as biblical and patristic scholarship, summoning leading scholars to the university in Constantinople. Among them was the future apostle to the Slavs, Constantine-Cyril. It was Photius who responded to the request of Prince Rastislav of Moravia for missionaries to be sent to his land.25 Recognizing the importance of Rastislav’s request, Photius seized the opportunity. His choice to head the requested mission was neither a bishop nor a monk but rather the scholar Constantine, who later took the monastic name Cyril. Again, Cyril’s career began not as a priest but as an academic, a teacher at the university. In fact, he is generally known as Constantine the Philosopher in the sources. Constantine-Cyril and his brother Methodius had grown up near Thessalonica, which had a very large Slavic population, and they were familiar with the south Slavic dialect spoken there. Before leaving Constantinople it seems that Cyril (apparently with a group of other scholars) invented an alphabet for the Slavs to translate the Scriptures, liturgy, and various theological works into the Slav tongue. Cyril, Methodius, and their co-workers arrived in Moravia in the autumn of 863 and were well received by the prince. Unfortunately we do not have much specific information about their activities, but we know that alongside translation, the main thrust of their missionary work was educational.26 Near contemporary biographies of the brothers report that Rastislav “gathered students and gave them over to Constantine for instruction” and that during the course of three years Constantine-Cyril and his co-workers “trained disciples.”27 Another text notes that “with great zeal they passed on the divine teachings to the most able of their disciples” and names the principal Moravian leaders whom they trained: Gorazd, Clement, Naum, Angelarius, and Savva.28 Thus, ConstantineCyril, Methodius, and their co-workers engaged in ongoing translation work and educated Slavic priests. This group of trained disciples would continue the educational work of the brothers in their absence and after their death. It is also worth noting that these teachers did not just get by with the basics of the language. Cyril’s translations suggest that he had come to understand the nuances of the Slavic language into which he effectively translated Greek idioms. He apparently even attempted poetic compositions of his own.


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But as is well known, the brothers soon faced difficulties in Moravia. Opposition, probably motivated by envy, arose from the Frankish clergy who were already working in this territory. After Cyril’s death a new ruler usurped the throne with the support of the clergy, and Methodius was thrown into prison for three years. Though eventually released and allowed to return to his translation work and teaching, both he and the team of leaders he had trained were constantly harassed by Frankish priests. However, after being cast out of Moravia, two disciples, Clement and Naum, ended up in Belgrade, were summoned to Bulgaria by the now Christian ruler, Boris, and from there were sent off to what is modern-day Macedonia. At the time this Slavic-speaking region was still largely pagan territory. According to Theophylact of Ohrid’s Life of Clement, our best source for these events, besides preaching, Clement’s missionary work was largely focused on education.29 He first developed Slavic primary-level schools, then chose more advanced students for preparatory schools to train native candidates for the priesthood. He even encouraged the most advanced and talented students to do their own writing. He is said to have trained some 3,500 disciples, whom he sent out in groups of about three hundred into the twelve regions which had been entrusted to him. He had a monastery built in Ohrid, where he often stayed with his disciples. Even if the numbers have been exaggerated, Clement’s work was outstanding for both its scope and success. Besides praising his literary, pastoral, and evangelistic work, his biographer emphasizes Clement’s concern for the material welfare of the people. He helped to educate them in practical ways, for example, advancing their agricultural techniques. Specifically he taught them how to improve their arboriculture by grafting onto their wild fruit trees good shoots from Greece.30 But in the tradition of his mentors, Clement particularly devoted himself to the work of translation and education. He was anxious to provide his disciples with the homiletic literature they would need for their pastoral work. Toward this end he translated from the Greek many sermons for the liturgical year and homilies of the church fathers; he also wrote liturgical hymns for the divine service in Slavonic. He seems to have been the first prolific author of original compositions in Church Slavonic, and his work spawned a great period of literary and cultural flowering.

Faith and Learning in Higher Education


Scholars of Slavic literature who analyze Clement’s foundational role in the creation of Bulgarian literature and a Slavic literary culture rarely emphasize the missionary dimension of his educational work. Conversely, missiologists show relatively little interest in the cultural renaissance that flowed from his initiatives. In Clement’s career, however, these two thrusts of his work were intertwined. Yet I want to emphasize two other aspects of the vocation of these teaching missionaries among the Slavs: first, the holistic nature of their work—involving scholarship, teaching, preaching, and attending to material needs; and second, the role of teamwork and community in their educational endeavors—whether translating, teaching, or training disciples.


Turning from historical models to more presentist concerns, how might we respond to some of the challenges posed at the outset of this essay or to some of these vignettes from the Orthodox tradition? My suggestions here are intended as a prod to further reflection and discussion among Christian academics rather than any kind of concrete program for reforming higher education. Perhaps the place to start as Christian scholars is with a reexamination of the purpose of education—and the Orthodox tradition has much to offer here that may be relevant to the larger academic world. For example, we might reflect on the tendency toward narrower and narrower specializations—whether in the sciences, English, or theology—and consider the consequences of this development. Though graduate education must be highly specialized, is it possible to cultivate what Florovsky calls a “catholicity of mind” and an “integrating reorientation” in higher education given current trends?31 Do Orthodox scholars have something to contribute to this discussion—if not in writing then at least in their particular contexts, whether in teaching or in departmental or universitywide discussions of curriculum? Besides rethinking the purposes of education and curricular issues, engagement with the university involves an exchange; and Christian scholars need to be more willing to listen to and learn from colleagues


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with whom they may disagree. Certain tenets of postmodernism are clearly irreconcilable with Orthodox Christianity. The reviewer of Žižek’s book, cited earlier, notes how the writer “has only to scent an orthodoxy to feel the itch to put his foot through it.” But at the same time that we try to respond to such claims in a thoroughly informed and gentle manner, we need to acknowledge the rightness of many postmodern critiques of history, society, and culture, and learn from, even integrate, some ideas of our secular colleagues. For example, challenging the notion of center and periphery, one of many Foucauldian approaches adopted by postmodern scholars, has been particularly helpful in my own current research for a study of Eastern Christian mission from Constantine to the conversion of the Slavs. Sensitivity to the constructed nature of such concepts has led me to examine the evidence of “mission from below” and the theological significance of that notion, which is often missed by scholars focusing on Byzantine imperial missions.32 Surely another area in which postmodernism has something to teach the church as well as Christian scholars concerns the corruptive influence of power. In his deconstruction of the Englightenment, Foucault provides the famous example of the Damiens affair, in which the French authorities, alarmed by the potential subversive effects of Enlightenment ideas, submit the author to a horribe death for attempted regicide.33 Foucault paints a detailed and vivid picture of Damien’s prolonged torture and gruesome execution. Here in the age of “light and reason” we encounter the stubborn perdurance of human cruelty. This is a sober reminder of the abuse of power—whether in the hands of the state, the university, or the church—and of the fallenness of the human condition. In short, Christian scholars should be open to learn even from intellectual currents that seem largely antagonistic toward Christian faith and should not assume hostility on the part of all non-Christian academics. The emphasis on “culture wars” in the last few decades has generally been harmful to Christian scholars. After all, the problems Cyril and Methodius faced in their educational mission were largely from the church and not from hostile pagan intellectuals. This has often been my own experience as well, as I find myself trying to interpret the university to the church as much as Christian faith to the university. This is not to deny

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that hostile secular academics exist, but they are not in the majority and not always as hostile as we imagine. Many Christian academics view themselves as besieged minorities in a hostile sea of secularism, while most non-Christian faculty see themselves as besieged minorities in American culture (especially in the American south, where I taught for many years). And the categories of religious and secular have often become blurred or even blended together in the complex pluralistic landscape of American colleges and universities.34 So there are ways to relate to non-Christian colleagues on deeper personal as well as intellectual levels if we simply listen and identify with common issues or concerns. Building a Christian Community of Scholars

In preparing the presentation that was eventually revised for this essay, I turned to a volume of Father Florovsky’s collected works which included his essay “The Predicament of the Christian Historian.” Though looking primarily for his reflections on scholarship, I found my attention drawn to several other articles in which he repeatedly emphasized the social and communal nature of Christianity. Though he does not explicitly discuss this issue, I believe a “community” of Christian scholars is something he would have encouraged—especially given his combination of ecumenical spirit and emphasis on communal life. Florovsky describes the situation of the early church as an “antinomy”: a choice between “a flight into the desert” and a “construction of the Christian Empire”—both of which, historically speaking, “proved to be inadequate and unsuccessful.”35 Yet the monastic movement was not for the most part a movement of “apocalyptic dread” but rather a lay movement to leave the society of this world in order to build another society. Florovsky emphasizes the centrality of communal life, describing monasteries as “worshipping communities and working teams.”36 He then speaks of the ongoing importance of community in the work that Christians are called to do “in this world” and “in this age.” Although the church, or more concretely the local parish, is the primary community for Christian scholars, I would like to propose the importance of cultivating and participating in a community of Christian scholars within a specific college or university. Given the distinctive


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challenges facing Christian academics, especially in a secular university setting, we desperately need to interact with supportive colleagues, whether or not they represent different Christian traditions. Frankly, most of our local parishes neither understand nor are able to provide the kind of support we need to serve in the academic contexts to which we have been called. Like monks, Christian scholars are called not to flee the world of the university, but to be salt and light within it, perhaps even to transform it. And this work necessitates community. The various missions to the Slavs consistently show the importance of teamwork and community in Byzantine missionary work (which again, was largely educational); yet today we are increasingly separated in our educational efforts. The community of Christian scholars seems crucial not only for our own spiritual welfare in a challenging milieu, but particularly if we are to have the transformative influence Florovsky proposes within our society, the academy. Perhaps in this regard we can learn from the example of students— both those of the early church and in our own day. I think of Basil and Gregory in Athens, encouraging one another to faithfulness amidst rowdy peers and contentious masters, and hundreds of student fellowships meeting across the country today while many Christian faculty studiously avoid their Christian as much as their secular colleagues. Gatherings of Christian faculty may call for particular grace, broadmindedness, and ecumenicity; and there is the constant pressure of time and multiple commitments. But I am convinced that committed Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant faculty in a given institutional setting need one another’s support and encouragement, especially if they hope to be a leavening influence in their institutions. Thus, they ought to find some way to cultivate conversation and community. Academic Life as Christian Vocation

I would also like to propose that Christians view the academic vocation as a spiritual calling or ministry. Such a perspective could significantly influence our work in all three areas in which faculty at most of our institutions are evaluated for tenure and promotion, namely scholarship, teaching, and service. First of all, consider scholarship. For those of us working among students and faculty in higher education, the academy is

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our “mission.” Therefore we need to learn the “language” and discourse of the university, become immersed in its culture, and be willing to learn from it as we bring our own perspectives to the table. There have been many efforts to integrate or use the resources of the Christian tradition in scholarship. One of my own edited volumes offers some models.37 However, most of this work has not been done by Orthodox scholars, who have much to offer, so this is a plea to enter into this discussion. The present volume is a very important step toward “enlarging the conversation.”38 Secondly, we ought to view academic work as a Christian vocation in teaching and mentoring students. Can an Orthodox scholar make a difference in pedagogy—even at a secular or public university? One should not be an active evangelist in the classroom; indeed in most institutional settings this would be expressly forbidden, even if some of our secular colleagues may actively “proselytize” for their own points of view. But I would argue that a professor’s Christian commitment should make a difference whether or not his or her subject matter has anything to do with the humanities. Stanley Fish has rightly emphasized the calling of faculty to do best what they have been trained to do—teach, research, create, produce, and disseminate. He also insists that we cannot possibly determine what students will make of what we offer them in the classroom once they are out in the wider world. Moreover, “you can’t make them into good people,” he continues, and I concur with him up to this point until he concludes, “and you shouldn’t try!”39 While Fish is right about the primary purpose of institutions of higher learning, a lack of concern about what students do with their academic competencies is troubling. By way of contrast, Mark Schwehn, in his book Exiles from Eden, calls for “passionate engagement” as the hallmark of spiritually rooted colleges and universities.40 This kind of engagement keeps alive certain big questions leading students as well as scholars “toward community and the quest for truth and . . . against reductionism.”41 Whether or not we teach in religious institutions, as Christian academics we ought to take seriously this kind of engagement as teachers and mentors. At research universities or at liberal arts colleges where students are considering graduate school, we would do well to gather together interested Christian students to discuss questions of faith and academic life. For several years my husband and I led a monthly dinner-discussion


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group at the University of Florida for around twenty Christian graduate students from across the disciplines—from English to engineering. We even won a small outside grant to convene these gatherings. We quickly learned that many graduate students are hungry for this kind of conversation with Christian faculty mentors. Those not in a position to form an official group can certainly dialogue with and encourage more junior Christian colleagues or graduate students at the universities they serve. In my experience, neither faculty nor graduate students are getting much encouragement from their churches when it comes to their vocation in the academic world. And whatever else we do as teachers, we should remember that we never know who might be in our class. Like Prohaeresius, you might have a Eunapius or a Julian as much as a Basil or a Gregory sitting before you as a student. The manner as much as the content of our teaching can make a difference. Thirdly, beyond our research and teaching, we must take our Christian vocation seriously in relating to colleagues and serving our institutions. The academic world is an intensely competitive environment, bringing out our more primordial instincts in petty displays of power or haughty demonstrations of intellectual prowess. The rewards of this profession are very limited, and because of this, our departments can become quite nasty. As Henry Kissinger famously observed, “University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” What I want to emphasize, however, is not that scholars can be proud or mean (that is probably all too obvious), but rather that academics are actually quite needy people emotionally—often fragile and insecure beneath a steely or highly competent exterior. If we take seriously our academic vocation as a Christian calling, it will inevitably affect our relationships with colleagues as well as students. It may be here, rather than in pathbreaking scholarly tomes, that we have our greatest impact as Christian professors. Similarly, if we eschew our natural inclinations toward antagonism or withdrawal, we will find that our willingness to serve in the more “menial” tasks or positions in our departments is a form of stewardship. At many research universities the position of “undergraduate coordinator” tends to be lowest on the totem pole, the least glorious, most often imposed on the lowest of assistant professors. There are surely comparable administrative positions at other institutions. But these kinds of tasks are

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also part of academic work, and doing them cheerfully (or at least willingly), I would contend, is a particularly important aspect of our vocation as Christian scholars.




I would like to end with a citation from an obituary of a Christian professor. I beg the indulgence of my Orthodox readers for closing with a Presbyterian rather than an Orthodox scholar. I might have found an equally compelling commentary on the life of Father Florovsky or Father John Meyendorff, with whom I had the privilege to study for a semester at Fordham. However, I came across this reflection serendipitously as I was composing this essay in Princeton, New Jersey, and I was particularly struck by its encapsulation of many of the themes I have touched on here as well as those of the volume’s contributors. I was also moved by the fact that one of the faculty members who comment on this Christian scholar’s career is a Jewish professor, now emeritus, who was my husband’s dissertation advisor. The scholar himself was Elmore Harris Harbison, affectionately referred to as “Jinks,” a professor of Renaissance and Reformation history at Princeton University, who died in 1964. His colleagues described him as “a profoundly religious man, a learned and honest scholar” who “wrestled all his life with the problem of reconciling the apparent meaninglessness of history with the Providence of God.” Rejecting both dogmatism and skepticism, they note “his profound conviction that, in spite of all appearances, there is no contradiction between Christian faith and historical reason.” . . . He was described by two of his former students . . . as a rare example of the teacher “able to combine teaching, scholarship, and personal conviction so that each grows out of the other.” His faith, and “the humanity of his attitude” toward that faith, they say, “ensured that his influence extended to colleagues and students who had spiritual commitments different from his own.” At their meeting following his death, the faculty paid him this tribute: “Jinks raised important questions in his writing; his great gift as a teacher was to make his students raise important questions in their turn. He was a master of the Socratic method, and could make


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it effective at all levels, from a freshman class to a graduate seminar. . . .” “In the long run, this will be Jinks’s most important legacy. The next generation will revise his ideas about university organization, and rewrite his essays on Christianity and history—for this is the nature of academic life. But the men of the next generation who do this will be, in great part, men who studied under Jinks. Through his students and his students’ students, his ideas will live and his influence endure far beyond the end of our days.”42 It is my hope that such things may be said of many Christian scholars and teachers who engage the academic world of their own generation. NOTES 1. See especially Douglas G. Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). 2. For insights on how the Orthodox have responded to postmodernism and why, I am indebted to Ann Bezzerides as well as the participants in the June 2008 colloquium of the Orthodox Theological Society in America (OTSA). 3. See, for example, Mark R. Schwehn, “Christianity and Postmodernism: Uneasy Allies,” in Christianity and Culture in the Crossfire, ed. David A. Hoekema and Bobby Fong (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1997); and Crystal L. Downing, “Imbricating Faith and Learning: The Architectonics of Christian Scholarship,” in Douglas G. Jacobsen and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). 4. Terry Eagleton, “True to His Desires,” Times Literary Supplement, April 25, 2008. 5. James Turner, Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014). On the origins of the disciplines that today comprise “the humanities” in the modern university, see in particular part 3, 231–380. Especially in this section Turner describes a process of fragmentation, increasing disciplinary specialization, and self-isolation “as the links tying together the different realms of human knowledge snapped” (234). 6. For an analysis of this situation vis-à-vis higher education, see John Sommerville, The Decline of the Secular University (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), ch. 1, “The Marginalization of Our Universities,” 3–21. 7. Turner, Philology, 385.

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8. For Governor Rick Scott’s interview and subsequent supporting statements see Zac Anderson, “Rick Scott Wants to Shift University Funding Away from Some Degrees,” HT Politics, Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, FL), October 10, 2011, http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2011/10/10/rick-scott-wants-to-shift -university-funding-away-from-some-majors/; Lloyd Dunkelberger, “Scott Continues His Critique of Anthropology Degrees,” HT Politics, October 11, 2011, http://politics.heraldtribune.com/2011/10/11/scott-continues-his-critique -of-anthropology-degrees/. On “differential tuition” see Alison Griswold, “Majoring in the Humanities Might Soon Cost You More in Florida,” Forbes, January 18, 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/alisongriswold/2013/01/18/majoring-in -the-humanities-might-soon-cost-you-more-in-florida/. 9. Basil of Caesarea, Address to Young Men on Greek Literature, in Roy J. Deferrari, trans., St. Basil: The Letters, Loeb Classical Library 270 (repr., Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953), 4:381. 10. Georges Florovsky, “The Predicament of the Christian Historian,” in Christianity and Culture: The Collected Works of Georges Florovsky (Belmont, CA: Nordland Publishing Company, 1974), 2:46–47. The phrase “dust of small facts” is drawn from Henri-Irénée Marrou, De la conaissance historique (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1954), 47. 11. Letter to Gregory, in Commentaries of Origen, Ante Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (repr., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955), 9:295. 12. Quoted in Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, in Nicene and PostNicene Fathers, 2nd Series, ed. P. Schaff and H. Wace (repr., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955), 1:265–66. 13. For an excellent treatment of Basil’s own experiences and perspectives on education within the broader context of the mid-fourth century see Philip Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 27–60. 14. Two early fifth-century ecclesiastical historians, Socrates (4.26.6) and Sozomen (6.17.1), describe Himerius and Prohaeresius as the leading sophists of their age and say that as youths Basil and Gregory studied under them in Athens. 15. Eunapius, Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists, trans. Wilmer Cave Wright, Loeb Classical Library 8 (London: Heinemann, 1922), 477–515. 16. Eunapius, Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists, 485. 17. Edward J. Watts, City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 59. All of ch. 3, “Prohaeresius and the Later Fourth Century,” 48–78, is relevant here. 18. Watts, City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, 61. Following Eunapius, Watts carefully reconstructs Constans’s use of Prohaeresius in both Gaul and Rome as part of the propaganda for his regime (59–62). 19. Eunapius, Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists, 507.


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20. George A. Kennedy, A New History of Classical Rhetoric (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 245. 21. Neil McLynn, “Julian and the Christian Professors,” in Being Christian in Late Antiquity: A Festschrift for Gilllian Clark, ed. Carol Harrison, Caroline Humfress, and Isabella Sandwell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 133. Cf. Watts, City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, 75, who assumes that Prohaeresius’s pagan hetairoi did most of the teaching. 22. Gregory, Epitaph 5 (PG 38:13). For a generally more positive evaluation of Prohaeresius’s Christian faith and its influence on his role as a teacher of rhetoric in Athens and on Gregory of Nazianzus personally see John McGuckin, St. Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001), esp. 60–62. Susanna Elm, Sons of Hellenism, Fathers of the Church: Emperor Julian, Gregory of Nazianzus, and the Vision of Rome (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 24n32, is more skeptical, finding no evidence for a vibrant, “ascetically-minded Christian community” under Prohaeresius’s leadership. 23. Watts, City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, 72. 24. Jerome, Chronicle 242–43 (Watts’s translation in City and School in Late Antique Athens and Alexandria, 71). 25. Still foundational for the Byzantine mission to Moravia is Francis Dvornik, Byzantine Missions among the Slavs: SS. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1970), 160–93. See also the more recent treatments of Gilbert Dagron, Pierre Riché, and André Vauchez, Évêques, moines et empereurs (610–1054), Histoire du christianisme 4 (Paris: Desclée, 1993), 217–14; Alexander Avenarius, Die byzantinische kultur und die Slawen: Zum Problem der Rezeption und Transformation (6. Bis 12. Jahrhundert), Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Österreichichische Geschichtsforschung 35 (Vienna: Oldenbourg, 2000), 54–90; and most recently, Pavel Kouřil, ed., The Cyril and Methodius Mission and Europe—1150 Years since the Arrival of the Thessaloniki Brothers in Great Moravia (Brno: The Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 2015). 26. For helpful insights on the nature of the brothers’ missionary work see also Ihor Ševčenko, “Three Paradoxes of the Cyrillo-Methodian Mission,” in Ideology, Letters and Culture in the Byzantine World, ed. Ihor Ševčenko (London: Variorum, 1992), 220–36. See also Andrea Sterk, “Gregory the Theologian, Constantine the Philosopher, and Byzantine Missions to the Slavs,” in Re-reading Gregory of Nazianzus: Essays on History, Theology and Culture (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2012), 218–35. 27. Life of Constantine 15 and Life of Methodius 5 in Medieval Slavic Lives of Saints and Princes, trans. Marvin Kantor (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1983), 67–69 and 111, respectively.

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28. Life of Clement of Ohrid 2, in Kiril and Methodius: Founders of Slavonic Writing; A Collection of Sources and Critical Studies, ed. Ivan Duichev, trans. Spass Nikolov, East European Monographs, Boulder, 172 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 95. 29. An English translation of Theophylact of Ohrid’s entire Life of Clement is published in Duichev, Kiril and Methodius, 93–126. On Clement see also the study of Dimitri Obolensky, “Clement of Ohrid,” ch. 1 in his Six Byzantine Portraits (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988), 8–33. 30. Life of Clement 68, in Duichev, Kiril and Methodius, 119. 31. Florovsky, “Predicament of the Christian Historian,” 53. In a similar vein, James Turner has recently called for a rediscovery of the “primal oneness” that modern disciplinarity tends to mask. Philology, 386. 32. See Andrea Sterk, “Mission from Below: Captive Women and Conversion on the East Roman Frontiers,” Church History 79, no. 1 (March 2010): 1–39. 33. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage, 1977), 3–8. 34. On the blurring of boundaries and a thoughtful discussion of the current pluralistic landscape of American higher education and its implications see Jacobsen and Jacobsen, No Longer Invisible, esp. ch. 4, “Framing Knowledge,” 91–106. 35. Florovsky, “Faith and Culture,” in Collected Works, 2, 28–29. 36. Florovsky, “Antinomies of Christian History: Empire and Desert,” in Collected Works, 2, 87. For similar discussions of community and monasticism see in the same volume his essays “Christianity and Civilization,” 121–30, and “the Social Problem in the Eastern Orthodox Church,” 131–42. 37. Andrea Sterk, ed., Religion, Scholarship, and Higher Education: Perspectives, Models, and Future Prospects (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002). See especially the essays in part 2, “Religion and Scholarship: Disciplinary Perspectives.” For diverse approaches to Christian scholarship see Jacobsen and Jacobsen, Enlarging the Conversation. For scholarship attentive to religious beliefs and practices in the history of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam see also the essays in Andrea Sterk and Nina Caputo, eds., Faithful Narratives: Historians, Religion, and the Challenge of Objectivity (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2014). 38. In Jacobsen and Jacobsen, Enlarging the Conversation, several authors present different traditions of Christian scholarship, but the Orthodox tradition is mentioned only once in passing (28). Among many fine treatments of the roles of Catholicism and Protestantism in American higher education, see Mark A. Noll and James Turner, The Future of Christian Learning: An Evangelical and Catholic Dialogue, ed. Thomas Albert Howard (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press,


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2008). It is unfortunate for all parties that Orthodox interlocutors are not often included in such conversations. 39. Stanley Fish, “Aim Low,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 16, 2003. The gist of this article reappeared in his op-ed piece, “Why We Built the Ivory Tower,” New York Times, May 21, 2004. In the Chronicle piece, Fish was specifically reacting against the collective volume by Anne Colby et al. titled Educating Citizens: Preparing America’s Undergraduates for Lives of Moral and Civic Responsibility ( San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003), which lamented the failure of American universities to move students “beyond competence to commitment.” Inculcating vague moral and civic “capacities,” he argues, is not the proper task of higher education and even undermines its primary academic imperative to promote learning. Elsewhere, however, Fish extols collaborative learning and dialogue among peers as pedagogical practice. 40. Mark R. Schwehn, Exiles from Eden: Religion and the Academic Vocation in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). 41. Al De Ciccio, “Spirituality, the Professoriate, and the Curriculum,” in Searching for Spirituality in Higher Education, ed. Bruce W. Speck and Sherry L. Hoppe (New York: Peter Lang, 2007), 88, contrasting the views of Mark Schwehn and Clifford Geertz with those of Stanley Fish. 42. Alexander Leitch, “Harbison, Elmore Harris,” in A Princeton Companion (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978), 237–38, http://etcweb .princeton.edu/CampusWWW/Companion/harbison_elmore.html. The reference to “the men of the next generation” reflects the fact that Harbison taught and died before Princeton became co-ed.


Bruce N. Beck (ThD, Harvard Divinity School) is assistant professor of New Testament at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, Massachusetts. His research and teaching focus on the interpretation of scripture, especially integrating historical methods with tradition-historical (e.g., patristic) approaches for contemporary understandings of the Bible. He also serves as the director of the Pappas Patristic Institute, an endowed institute of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. John Behr (DPhil, Oxford University) is dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary and professor of patristics. His publications include The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death (2006), two volumes in The Formation of Christian Theology series, and The Case against Diodore and Theodore: Texts and Their Context (2011). Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides (PhD, Boston College) is director of the Office of Vocation & Ministry at Hellenic College, where she also teaches religious education. She is the editor of Christ at Work: Orthodox Christian Perspectives on Vocation (2006) and contributed a foreword and study guide to the classic text in Orthodox religious education, Our Church and Our Children, by Sophie Koulomzin (2004). Radu Bordeianu (PhD, Marquette University) is associate professor of theology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. His research focuses on ecumenical ecclesiologies, especially the dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches and the ecclesiological contributions of Romanian Orthodox theologian Dumitru Staniloae to ecumenical discussions on the church. His publications include Dumitru Staniloae: An Ecumenical 421



Ecclesiology (2011, 2013). An Orthodox priest, Bordeianu is the director of Duquesne’s Annual Holy Spirit Lecture and Colloquium, and has served as president of the Orthodox Theological Society in America.

Scott Cairns (PhD, University of Utah) is Curators’ Distinguished Professor of English at University of Missouri in Columbia and director of the Seattle Pacific University low-residency MFA program. His research and teaching focus on poetry and poetics. His books include Short Trip to the Edge (a spiritual memoir; 2007, 2016), The End of Suffering (a theological essay; 2009), Endless Life (translations and adaptations of Christian mystics; 2014), and eight