Dr. Rodolph Yanney, The Eucharist and its Theological Aspects in Scripture, Liturgy, and Patristic Writings (Coptic Church Review: 2011), 140 pp. Pbk. ISSN 0273-32691
The late Dr. Rodolph Yanney (1930-2010) was a distinguished Coptic theologian. Although professionally a physician, he was a devout lay theologian, influenced by the late Archdeacon Habib Guirgis and his lecturewrts at the Institute of Coptic Studies, especially Nazeer Gayed (the future Pope Shenouda). His writings combine scriptural and patristic authorities with a deep pastoral concern for the spiritual edification of his readers.
In 1980, as President of the Society of Coptic Church Studies, he founded the Coptic Church Review, ‘a Quarterly of Contemporary Patristic Studies’ and became its editor from the outset until his death. Despite its modest title CCR has maintained the highest standards in the field of contemporary Coptic theology. Dr. Yanney’s own early contributions were largely carefully researched lives of the saints or explanations of the Feasts of the Church but between 2003-2009 CCR carried a series of Dr. Yanney’s articles on the Eucharist, drawn from an Arabic book he published in 2004. Only now have these been collected together and published as a complete study and it is a veritable jewel.
As one reads each section one senses the prayerful meditation with which it was crafted as well as the delight in the directness and simplicity with which the reader is addressed. Scripture and the fathers are woven together effectively and the choice of appropriate extracts suggests the writer’s familiarity with his sources. Dr. Yanney’s wide reading and sympathies are also shown by his quotation of modern non-Orthodox scholors such as Louis Boyer, Dom Gregory Dix & Cardinal Daniélou as well as mystics such as Thomas á Kempis and Evelyn Underhill.
This study is rich in symbolism, whether considering the types and antitypes of the Old Testament or the prophetic foreshadowing of the Messianic Banquet. It also offers historical and critical commentary on such issues as the developing roles of the priest and people; corporate worship and individual piety; problems of preparation and personal worthiness; frequency of communion; and the way Scholastic thought has influenced understanding of the Eucharist. It is a fund of liturgical and historical erudition, but always presented with humility and love. Above all it is a profoundly devotional study which should be read for edification to strengthen both individual faith and the wider Orthodox community.
His Grace Bishop Mettaous, The Sublime life of Monasticism (St. Shenouda Monastery: 2011), Paperback: 170 pages; ISBN-10: 0980517168; ISBN-13: 978-0980517163 Amazon Price: £8.00
‘The Sublime Life of Monasticism’ is, put simply, a glimpse into modern Monasticism. The book opens up by looking into one of the biggest misunderstandings about Monasticism, asking “s Monasticism a Vocation or a duty?” discussing how someone knows whether they are called, and why some fail to fulfil this calling. The book then goes into great depth on everything from why someone would become a monk, to the importance of monasticism and even gives a detailed description of the daily life of a monk.
The book is split into section detailing what the chapter will cover. The first half of the book is dedicated to the more practical side of monasticism, covering a vast number of issues which someone may encounter on their path to the monastic life. It looks at how one becomes a monk, the difficulties they may face, how one must prepare for the monastic life and a number of other topics related to this. Every question one could have on the practical side of preparation for a monastic life is covered and everything is backed by both Scriptural detail and quotes from the desert fathers explaining the importance of it.
Once he has given us an image of the preparation and build up to a life us monastic, Bishop Mettaous moves on to look at life inside a monastery. HG Bishop Mettaous began writing this book in memorial of his 25th year as a monk in El-Souriani Monastery, so he has plenty of days to choose from. He looks at life as a notice in this section, explaining that the novice monks generally receive the hardest tasks to prepare them for the tough years of spiritual warfare ahead of them. He also uses this section to emphasise the importance of obedience to your abbot and father of confession, since obedience and humility are key virtues of the monastic life. He again provides us with a wealth of wisdom from the desert Fathers and examples of the importance of monasticism in Scripture to allow us to connect with the point of a deeper level.
In the Third section of the book we are introduced to a immensely vibrant collection of areas defining what monasticism is, all beginning with “Monasticism is a life of…” and connecting it to such concepts as prayer, contemplation and pilgrimage. As someone with only a basic academic knowledge and no experience of monasticism on a personal level, this enlightened me to no end. The pure depth of the monastic life is shown through this part of the book. We are introduced to what seems to be the single most fulfilling spiritual life that one can imagine but reminded that with this life of solitude and spiritual hunger comes a life of spiritual warfare and constant vigilance against the evil one and his tricks.
All in all ‘The sublime life of monasticism’ is a book for anyone who wants to know the depth of the monastic life and wants to read about it through the medium of one Bishop’s personal and spiritual journey rather than a flat out, objective academic text. In this book you will not learn the history of monasticism but you will learn of the life of it from those who give their lives as living Martyrs in order to continue their Spiritual warfare. You will see how Monks trace their practices to those of the Israelites in the desert and be reminded as to why the monks are seen as the Angels and guides to all men under God.