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In a work that is scholarly yet accessible to the educated layperson, the late Afanasiev (1893-1966, St. Sergius Orthodox Seminary, Paris), Russian-born Orthodox priest and theologian, considers the evolution of the office of bishop in the Christian church. He argues that the current Western teaching on the office of bishop is one based on scholastic theology, which corrupted the original understanding of the role of the bishop, and ignores the role of the communal and charismatic in the early church. Afanasiev argues that bishops were ordained because it was recognized that the Holy Spirit had already chosen them. He meticulously makes his argument, examining and explaining biblical and early church texts. The chief presbyter (later called bishop) was not set apart but was the presider at the Eucharist, which is concelebrated by all, not just the presbyters. He emphasizes the priesthood of the laity, a topic that is common now but would have been radical when Afanasiev wrote of it. Although completed more than 40 years ago, Afanasiev's book has a contemporary feel. Highly recommended for theology collections.
—Augustine J. Curley