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The Church of the Holy Spirit
     

The Church of the Holy Spirit

by Nicholas Afanasiev, Vitaly Permiakov, Michael Plekon, Rowan Williams
 

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The Church of the Holy Spirit, written by Russian priest and scholar Nicholas Afanasiev (1893–1966), is one of the most important works of twentieth-century Orthodox theology. Afanasiev was a member of the “Paris School” of émigré intellectuals who gathered in Paris after the Russian revolution, where he became a member of the faculty of St

Overview

The Church of the Holy Spirit, written by Russian priest and scholar Nicholas Afanasiev (1893–1966), is one of the most important works of twentieth-century Orthodox theology. Afanasiev was a member of the “Paris School” of émigré intellectuals who gathered in Paris after the Russian revolution, where he became a member of the faculty of St. Sergius Orthodox Seminary. The Church of the Holy Spirit, which offers a rediscovery of the eucharistic and communal nature of the church in the first several centuries, was written over a number of years beginning in the 1940s and continuously revised until its posthumous publication in French in 1971.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

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

From the Publisher

“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. . . . Although completed more than 40 years ago, Afanasiev's book has a contemporary feel. Highly recommended for theology collections.” —Library Journal

“[Afanasiev] was one of the most creative, original, and provocative Orthodox writers in recent generations. Permiakov's very readable English translation will bring a much larger audience to Afanasiev's insights and lead to critical engagement with his arguments.” —Theological Studies

“This felicitously translated posthumous work, The Church of the Holy Spirit (1971), is Afanasiev's magnum opus and it sets out to express his vision of the Church as the realization of the Eucharist by giving an historical account of earliest Christianity's 'eucharistic assembly' with all its constitutive ministries. The present translation makes a poorly known work easily accessible and it is therefore a gift of the authors both to contemporary scholarship, with its reassessment of Russian émigré culture and religious thought in a broad ecumenical perspective, and to the various churches indebted to Afanasiev's immense theological legacy.” —The Russian Review

“. . . This welcome volume is the first time that Afanasiev’s seminal work has been made fully accessible to the English-language reader. Afanasiev was one of the major theological thinkers of the twentieth century. His training as a church historian, his strong belief in the centrality of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and his thorough grounding in patristics enabled him to be among the first theologians to initiate a profound renewal of Eucharistic ecclesiology, not only among Orthodox Christians, but within Catholic and Protestant traditions as well.” —Slavic and East European Journal

“Published posthumously in Russian in 1971 and in French in 1975, The Church of the Holy Spirit—together with other pieces in West European languages—established its author among the most significant Orthodox theologians of the mid-twentieth century. . . . In the present book and some other writings, Afanasiev was directly addressing problems that he saw in the current life of the Orthodox church(es). His criticisms are amply surrounded by a positive ecclesiological vision as he draws hints towards reform from apostolic and early patristic sources.” —Modern Theology

“This is the first time that the classic work of Fr. Afanasiev, originally completed in 1950, has been published in English. Fr. Afanasiev joins a line of Orthodox theologians who attempt to understand the Church—that ‘subject which is not a subject,’ according to Fr. Schmemann—beyond the standard, canonical, approach. His voice, in this edition’s English, sounds timely even now.” —The Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Theological Studies
“[Afanasiev] was one of the most creative, original, and provocative Orthodox writers in recent generations. Permiakov's very readable English translation will bring a much larger audience to Afanasiev's insights and lead to critical engagement with his arguments.”
The Russian Review
“This felicitously translated posthumous work, The Church of the Holy Spirit (1971), is Afanasiev's magnum opus and it sets out to express his vision of the Church as the realization of the Eucharist by giving an historical account of earliest Christianity's 'eucharistic assembly' with all its constitutive ministries. The present translation makes a poorly known work easily accessible and it is therefore a gift of the authors both to contemporary scholarship, with its reassessment of Russian émigré culture and religious thought in a broad ecumenical perspective, and to the various churches indebted to Afanasiev's immense theological legacy.”
Slavic and East European Journal
“. . . This welcome volume is the first time that Afanasiev’s seminal work has been made fully accessible to the English-language reader. Afanasiev was one of the major theological thinkers of the twentieth century. His training as a church historian, his strong belief in the centrality of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and his thorough grounding in patristics enabled him to be among the first theologians to initiate a profound renewal of Eucharistic ecclesiology, not only among Orthodox Christians, but within Catholic and Protestant traditions as well.”
Modern Theology
“Published posthumously in Russian in 1971 and in French in 1975, The Church of the Holy Spirit—together with other pieces in West European languages—established its author among the most significant Orthodox theologians of the mid-twentieth century. . . . In the present book and some other writings, Afanasiev was directly addressing problems that he saw in the current life of the Orthodox church(es). His criticisms are amply surrounded by a positive ecclesiological vision as he draws hints towards reform from apostolic and early patristic sources.”
Journal of Ecclesiastical History
“This is the first time that the classic work of Fr. Afanasiev, originally completed in 1950, has been published in English. Fr. Afanasiev joins a line of Orthodox theologians who attempt to understand the Church—that ‘subject which is not a subject,’ according to Fr. Schmemann—beyond the standard, canonical, approach. His voice, in this edition’s English, sounds timely even now.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780268074678
Publisher:
University of Notre Dame Press
Publication date:
11/15/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Nicholas Afanasiev (1893-1986) was a Eastern Orthodox theologian who was ordinary professor of the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris. He was born in Odessa, Russian Empire.
Vitaly Permiakov received his M.Div. from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary and is a Ph.D. student in theology at the University of Notre Dame.
Michael Plekon is professor of sociology at Baruch College-CUNY and a priest of the Orthodox Church in America.

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