By John Meyendorff
For over one thousand years, japanese Christendom had as its heart the second one capital of the Roman Empire-Constantinople, the hot Rome, or Byzantium. The geographical department among the jap and Western church buildings used to be just one manifestation of deeper rifts, characterised through an extended historical past of conflicts, suspicions, and misunderstandings. even though the artwork, monasticism, and spirituality of Byzantium have end up famous as inspirational and influential within the shaping of jap ecu civilization, and of the center a long time and the Renaissance in addition, the West has been mostly unaware of the historic evolution and the doctrinal value of Byzantine theology. right here, for the 1st time in English, is gifted a synthesis of Byzantine Christian notion. The reader is guided via its complexities to an knowing of Byzantium: its view of guy and his future of deification; its skill to go beyond the Western captivity; its survival below relatively opposed historic situations. in any case, he may perhaps locate himself receptive to the elemental positions of Byzantine proposal, that have attained, during this time of want for the reintegration of Christianity itself, a stunning, modern relevance.
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Extra resources for Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes
The written form of the apostolic message was always understood by the Byzantines in the framework of "apostolic tradition"the wider, living, and uninterrupted continuity of the apostolic Church. " 4 The "other doctrines" which Basil mentions are, essentially, the liturgical and sacramental traditions which, together with the more conceptual consensus found in the continuity of Greek patristic theology, always served in Byzantium as a living framework for the understanding of Scripture. In exegetical methods as in their theory of knowledge, the Byzantines accepted the patristic criterion set in the fourth and fifth centuries.
The bishops of Constantinople and their staffs, however, were still able to defend explicit theological convictions, even against the imperial will, as the lonely pro-Chalcedonian stand adopted by the patriarchs Euphemius (489-495) and Macedonius II (495-511), under the reign of the Monophysite emperor Anastasius, bears witness. Thus, a theology which can be termed specifically "Byzantine," in contrast to the earlier currents of Eastern Christian thought centered mainly in Egypt and Syria, comes into being during the post-Chalcedonian period.
With a few exceptions, such as the Chalcedonian definition, the conciliar statements themselves assume a negative form; they condemn distortions of the Christian Truth, rather than elaborate its positive contentwhich is taken for granted as the living Tradition and as a wholesome Truth standing beyond and above doctrinal formulae. By far the greatest part of the theological literature is either exegetical or polemical, and in both cases the Christian faith is assumed as a given reality, upon which one comments, or which one defends, but which one does not try to formulate exhaustively.