Kattan, A. E and Georgie, F. A: Thinking Modernity

August 9th, 2011

Assaad E. Kattan and Fadi A. Georgi (eds), Thinking Modernity: Towards a Reconfiguration of the Relationship between Orthodox Theology and Modern Culture

series: Balamand Theological Conferences I

Balamand, Lebanon; Munster, Germany: St. John of Damascus Institute of Theolgogy, University of Balamand; Westphalian Wilhem University, 2010

ISBN: 978-9953-452-31-9

Today, a reconsideration of the relationship between Orthodox theology and modern culture, far from hasty judgments and simplistic generalizations, proves to be necessary. Such a reconsideration was the main concern of around 20 scholars who gathered from 3-5 December 2007 at the monastery of our Lady of Balamand (Lebanon) within the framework of an international Orthodox symposium with ecumenical participation.

Patronized and attended by His Beatitude Ignatius IV (Hazim), Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, the symposium “Thinking Modernity” was organized by the Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology at the University of Balamand (Lebanon), the Chair of Orthodox Theology at the Center of Religious Studies of the Westphalian Wilhelm’s University of Münster (Germany) and the Balamand Patriarchal Monastery.

The present volume provides a record of the papers presented to this symposium, in English and French.

1. Merja Merras: ‘Do We Meet Modernity with Out-Of-Date Questions? Some Hermeneutical Reflections’
2. John Behr: ‘Returning to First Principles: Articulating Orthodox Theology in a Postmodern Context’
3. Pantelis Kalaitzidis: ‘De la création théo-logique à la creation artistique: Prolégomènes au diologue entre théologie et littéreature moderne’
4. Job Getcha: ‘La tradition liturgique byzantine et la modernité’
5. Sergey Horujy: ‘Hermeneutics of the Human Body: According to Hesychast Anthropology’
6. Elizabeth Theokritoff: ‘Cosmic Priesthood and the Human Animal: Speaking of Man and the Natural World in a Scientific Age’
7. Athanasios Papathanasiou: ‘An Orphan or a Bride?: Human Self, Collective Identities and Conversion: An Orthodox Approach’
8. Marcus Plested: ‘The Aesthetics of Sophiology’
9. Assaad Elias Kattan: ‘The Byzantine Icon: A Bridge between Theology and Modern Culture?’
10. Emmanuel Clapsis: ‘The Holy Spirit in the Life of the World: The Tension of the Particular with the Universal’
11. Daniel Munteanu: ‘Culture of Love and Hermeneutics of Truth: The Relevance of an Ecumenical Anthropology for a Pluralistic Society’
12. George Massouh: ‘Le dialogue des religions comme apport de la modernité: Approache antiochienne’
13. Gaby Hachem: ‘Avis œcuménique’

This book provides a much needed response to current research on Christianity and Modernity, through providing Orthodox voices. Many of the contributions to this paper examine the Arab Orthodox engagement with Modernity from ‘within’, for they are written not only from scholars of Orthodoxy from the United States and Europe, but also the Arab world, Lebanon specifically.

The aim of this book is to explore the relationship between the Orthodox Church and Modernity. Modernity is argued to be composed of three facets (1) ‘a philosophical principle emphasizing the centrality of human reason’, (2) ‘the priority of the human subject’, and (3) ‘democracy as a political system enabling individuals to deliberately make political decisions’. (pg. 6)

As such, the contributions to this book explore the way that the Orthodox Church engages with these facets of Modernity. However, the contributors also examine the role of the Orthodox Church within Post-Modernity–‘characterized not only by a sceptic [sic] attitude towards human rationality, but also by a “return” of the religious, primarily in the form of fundamentalistic and individualistic spiritualities.’ (pg. 6)

Chapters are written in either English or French, and have a primarily theological focus.

Submission: Christine Lindner (Reviewer), 9 August 2011

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