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- Rick Henry - 27-01-2010


I got a used copy of "Unseen Warfare" in the mail a few weeks ago and this is one of the best books that I have ever read. I have read reviews of this book in the past where folks have stated this book is second only to the Scripture, and I didn't pay much attention to that . . . but, now I am starting to allow some room for this.

And, you don't even need to know ancient Greek for this one! :lol:

Have you read this by any chance? As I am reading it I seem to keep being distracted by what is being said in this book in relation to our past conversations in this thread. Maybe this is partly therapy for me by coming back and making this post, in the hope that if I do I can read the rest of the book without this distraction! :0)

Anyway, have you read this:

Unseen Warfare
Edited by Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and revised by Theophan the Recluse

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because, this book speaks directly to our previous conversation and it couldn't possibly make it more clear that in Eastern Orthodoxy all of our practices or methods or techniques accomplish nothing and are good for nothing unless God sees fit to bestow His Grace on our lives.

So, my post today is as simple as this in asking if you are familiar with this work. Because, this one really is a heavy-hitter in Eastern Orthodoxy, along with the Philokalia . . . and it really leaves no room for the distinction that has been made in this thread in this last turn it has taken. Especially, in the first three chapters of this book it leaves absolutely no room for the distinction that has been made. My dad calls me the Redundancy Vice-president of Redundancy sometimes . . . but, in the opening chapters of this book, it is the President of Redundancy in repeating over and over this point.


- marc hanna - 27-01-2010


No, I'm not familiar with the book but I will take a look. There are clearly many different views within Eastern Orthodoxy about Eastern Orthodoxy, as is true within Catholicism and Oriental Orthodoxy as well. It is essential in understanding where traditions diverged when determining that which is historically characteristic of a given tradition and that which is modern innovation.

Thanks for the link, I always appreciate new resources.

God bless.

- admin - 29-01-2010

Dear Rick

This is such a wonderful book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is easy enough to read and benefit from straight away, but so deep that to return to it again and again is to always find something new.

God bless

Father Peter

- marc hanna - 29-01-2010

I ordered a copy just after my last post. They have it in stock at St Vladimir's Seminary Press.

- Rick Henry - 29-01-2010

Hi Father Peter,

Very good to hear from you!! I agree with what you have said about Unseen Warfare 100% . . . I cannot recommend this highly enough as well, but then again I'm the same guy that recommended that one book by Barth! Confusedhock:


Good job finding a copy of this book! I couldn't find a new copy when I looked a few weeks ago.

And, as you wrote:

Quote:It is essential in understanding where traditions diverged when determining that which is historically characteristic of a given tradition and that which is modern innovation.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I still am holding out for the possibility that we might put some meat on these bones one day. Otherwise, all I have are my certain E.O. influences that you are aware of, and as I'm sure Father Peter can attest from years past, I am one easily influenced guy! :lol:

- admin - 01-02-2010

I was very fortunate enough to find a copy signed by E. Kadloubovsky and G. E. H. Palmer.

It sat around unread for a while, but when I did read it I found it transformative.

Father Peter

- marc hanna - 01-02-2010


Some valuable reading in understanding the condition at the turn of the century between the 5th and 6th centuries regarding the nature of the understanding between the Antiochene and Alexandrian traditions can be found in the exchanges between John the Grammarian(Antiochene/EO) and Severus of Antioch(Alexandrine/OO). These exchanges focus of the writings of St Cyril and each party's understanding of his words and the application to their own party's theology. Both hold Cyril as the highest standard in theology.

St Severus was a remarkable theologian and the greatest of his time among both parties. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) John the Grammarian was not an equal match to Severus, but at least his writings served to frame the understanding of the Antiochenes at the time.

- Rick Henry - 01-02-2010

Thanks Marc,

I wonder if you would like to quote any of the relevant sections in these exchanges?

- marc hanna - 01-02-2010

In these exchanges, Severus dissects John's logic and neither can be quoted in a mere convenient and short excerpt if we are to derive the essence of what they are talking about. I should love to do as you request, but my time is limited. I will consult my library though and offer up some suggested readings and maybe we can have a discussion based on us both having familiarity with the same texts.

- Rick Henry - 01-02-2010

Marc--Feel free to just make your point and share the essence as you have derived it.

I'm not really sure how or what in these two schools of thought really apply to the distinction that you are making here in this thread . . . is it possible that instead of consulting your library for me to read some things, you could just share your thoughts about what is relevant--and I will assume that you have read these correctly.

What is it, exactly, that you are seeing in these exchanges that speaks to our topic?

- marc hanna - 01-02-2010

The point here is to illustrate the divergence in theology of the two parties prior to Constantinople II in order to characterize the traditions up until then. Also, it is to indicate that Constantinople II was not an affirmation (or clarification) of Chalcedon from which the Alexandrian party had diverged but indeed that the Antiochene party had a theology that diverged from before 300AD and returned to something more closely resembling Alexandrine at Constantinople II. Finally, it is a step in clarifying, that in the 4th century, the fathers were not in agreement on the nature of man's reunion with God as set out in separate theological traditions between Athanasius and Gregory.

Severus, in these exchanges, identifies that John's quotes from Cyril in proving that Cyril believed in two natures of Christ were indeed deliberate misquotes in order to make Cyril's theology conform to theirs. From John we see a theology that presents as rather Nestorian and not in agreement with the essence of Constantinople II or modern EO interpretations.

But the most profound is when we read these exchanges after that of the exchanges between John of Antioch and Cyril of Alexandria and we see that this is an argument that has endured from before their time. The theopoiesis of Athanasius and the theosis of Gregory remained proper to each in each's theologies - they lived and taught at the same time, why did they not use the same terms if the spoke of the same thing? Surely, this would serve to prevent confusion, but instead they deliberately chose to you separate terms in order to identify that they were not speaking of the same thing. But they were much more cordial then, and had a common enemy, Arius, and opted not to discount each other's point of view as was done by their successors; but this does not indicate that they agreed, but rather that they peacefully agreed to disagree. Much of the theology of theosis carries over from Plato and Philo, from which Athanasius spent most of his life trying to distance Christian theology from .

Athansius is remembered as having released Christianity from the shackles of Greek philosophy. He differentiated from the ascension of man up to God, by clarifying and reiterating the God descended to man and that the final reunion with God was theopoiesis. Gregory, Philo and Plato's theosis, was a gradual transformation into what God is. Athanasius' theopoiesis is the projection of God's divinity through us only enabled by our union, much like the transference of magnetism to steel when steel comes in contact with a magnet.

Cyril's and Athanasius' numerous analogies seem to agree seamlessly, which is evidence of the continued tradition that is the Alexandrine tradition. This ultimately was very incompatible with the Greco-theology of the Antiochenes and was developing into a greater rift between the two, of which the schism between Cyril and John was evidence. It is clear, that prior to Constantinople II, Antiochene theology did not agree with that of Athansius and Cyril, despite holding them up as the highest standard. Even to this day, who are the pillars of Eastern Orthodoxy? None of them are Athanasius or Cyril.

Some day a should like to write a thorough dissertation on the subject but currently it exceeds the time I have available. For now I have to get back to work, I will try to dig up some excerpts later this week or next.

- John Charmley - 04-04-2010

Fascinating to catch up with this thread, and sorry to have missed the very high quality discussion by Marc, Rick and Fr. Peter.

Coming back to this I would first say that what Fr. Peter says here is something which inspired my original posts.

admin Wrote:First of all I would wish to say that though I have always used the word theosis, I have generally understood the spirituality which I meant to describe by that word as being that more closely described by the word theopoiesis. It strikes me that even while there are those within the Oriental Orthodox tradition who perhaps have developed a too philosophical spirituality in recent times, nevertheless the majority of Oriental Orthodox, certainly Coptic Orthodox, are more ready to accept it practical spirituality, both of action and contemplation.

This, also, seems spot on:

Quote:On the other hand, I would suggest that outside of some monastic circles and groups of Western converts, within Eastern Orthodoxy the traditional spirituality remains practical in the sense we have described.

Fr. Peter's warning about either extremes here are wisdom to be heeded by us all. And with this, I suspect we can all agree:

Quote:This is perhaps why I hesitate simply to abandon one technical term for another, since it seems to me that what matters most is the substance of the spirituality we are describing, and this is found not so much in simple adherence to a word, but in a deeper apprehension of the goals and methods the various spiritualities which we could consider.

It was a shame that circumstances prevented me completing my earlier efforts, but time and God willing, I shall endeavour to do so - greatly enriched by this discussion.

In Christ,



- Rick Henry - 05-04-2010

Thanks very much John,

As you quote Father Peter, I find myself turned shiny side up again:

Quote:This is perhaps why I hesitate simply to abandon one technical term for another, since it seems to me that what matters most is the substance of the spirituality we are describing, and this is found not so much in simple adherence to a word, but in a deeper apprehension of the goals and methods the various spiritualities which we could consider.

I'm not sure how I let Father Peter's writing get away from me here, this really stops the words on my computer screen from swimming before my eyes.

That would be very good if you had time to return to your earlier efforts with this thread at some point.

Thanks again.

In Christ,

- John Charmley - 05-04-2010

Isn't it a great passage? It cuts to the heart of so much.

I become wary at times that some seek to find in Oriental Orthodoxy that mythic Protestant beast, the Church before the 'Great Apostasy'. Well, since we don;t believe there was such a thing, we can't be it.

Indeed, if we had not developed a better understanding of our methods of spirituality and of the Faith once given, then we'd have been asleep for centuries. That does not mean we are wiser, just better informed!

I hope to return to this topic presently.

In Christ,