ursusanglicanus (ursusanglicanus) wrote,
ursusanglicanus
ursusanglicanus

Help me please, professional theologians

Somehow I have got signed up to Academia, which sends me every couple of days an article on Orthodox theology published in one or the other Christian theological journal. Most are about 10 years old – a reasonable time to wait before giving for free what otherwise would cost a EUR 50 or more a year subscription.

I think I’m noticing some patterns. Confirmation or correction by more professional theologians than me would be welcome.

Over the past hundred years there have been a handful of theologians who have developed fairly complete and creative theological-philosophical systems. I’m thinking particularly of Bulgakov, Lossky, Popovic, Staniloae, Zizoulas and Yannaras. These are then picked up a generation or so later by budding young theologians, who use them to cut their theological teeth, examining them with microscopic detail, finding potential imbalances and corrigeant le tir, normally in the form of journal articles, typically consisting up to 50% of footnotes cross-referring to other theologians.

 
Bulgakov, Lossky, Popovich


My impression is that this movement is running dry:

1) No one has the time and leisure any more to really develop new systems. These demand time, and not too much travelling. Popovic, Staniloae and Lossky had, through curtailment by war or Communist regimes, time to work things out. I’m not sure that Kallistos Ware, Paul Gavrilyuk or John Beir have the necessary leisure for this, even if the latter told me he did much of his serious reading in airport lounges and in flight.

2) Much good theology has been born of confrontation with philosophical systems outside the church. Would we have had Bulgakov, Zizouloas of Yannaras wtthout Schopenhauer, Hegel or Heidegger? Are there philosophers around today whom Orthodox theologians can face off against? Is philosophy itself too politicized or morally tainted (Sartre, Foucault) to act as a sparring partner?


Staniloae, Zizioulas, Yannaras

3) A certain anti-intellectualism in present-day Orthodoxy, partly laziness, partly a lack of understanding of how the ‘intellectual’ and the ‘spiritual’ should or do interact. How far do the efforts of Popovic, Staniloae or Zizoulas ‘trickle down’ to parish-level praxis?

What I also notice is a total absence of Russian theologians on the international scene with the exception of Oleg Davydov, who is non grata right now with the Russian academic establishment. Possible reasons for this absence: lack of
English (or unreadiness to pay translators/correctors), a fear of contagion from the west, and the age-old problem of the Russian church of being unable to attract and retain the best minds.

 
Tags: roc, theology
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