Friday, June 4, 2010

My Living Theological Heroes

1. Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany

The late Fr John Romanides wrote: "an Orthodox theologian and spiritual father is the same thing. One cannot be a theologian without being a spiritual father and one cannot be a spiritual father without being a theologian." Pride of place, therefore, goes to my own spiritual father, His Eminence, Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany. Vladyka Mark received his formal theological education at the Theological Faculty of the University of Belgrade (this in addition to receiving a PhD in Slavic philology from the University of Heidelberg). More importantly, however, he was a disciple of both St Justin of Ćelije and Schemamonk Nikodom of Karoulia on Mount Athos. I have learned more from him than from any other living person, and cannot separate the theological from the spiritual in that which I've learned from him. His own academic interest is primarily in St Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow.
2. Archpriest John Behr
My thesis adviser and general theological mentor while studying in the M.Th. program at St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary was Archpriest John Behr. He has shaped my mind more than any professor I've had before or since; if Vladyka Mark is my spiritual father, then Fr John is my theological father. Most of what I learned from him came not in the classroom, but over tea in his kitchen.

3. Fr Andrew Louth
When completing my M.Th. I applied to, and was accepted at, Durham University for doctoral work in theology under the direction of Fr Andrew Louth. Unfortunately, however, I couldn't get the funding together, and the plan had to be abandoned. I continue to read Fr Louth's work nonetheless, and find that his Discerning the Mystery: An Essay of the Nature of Theology bears endless rereading.

4. Igumen Alexander (Golitzin)
Fr Alexander is remarkable for his work on three fronts: the defense and rehabilitation of St Dionysius the Areopagite in academic theology; his translations of the works of St Symeon the New Theologian; and his work on Second Temple Judaism and the roots of Christianity. Many of his essays on all three topics can be read here.

5. Jean-Claude Larchet

I've written about my ardent admiration for Dr Larchet here. I'm very excited to announce that I've been informed by representatives of Alexander Press that his book The Therapy of Spiritual Maladies, the crown of his trilogy on spiritual health and illness (the first two books being The Theology of Illness and Mental Disorders and Spiritual Healing) should be released in July. An extremely prolific author, one can only hope more and more of his works (a partial list of which can be found here) will be translated into English.

6. Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic)

As I've mentioned a number of times, the unofficial patron saint of this blog is the newly-glorified St Justin of Ćelije. During his lifetime a small group of dedicated disciples gathered around him, one of whom was Bishop Atanasije. Two collections of his essays have recently appeared in English under the titles Christ – The Alpha and Omega and Emmanuel: The Only Begotten and First Born Among Many Brethren. One of the most popular translations I've done for this blog was his series on repentance, confession, and fasting (one, two, three, four).

7. A. I. Sidorov
Long-time readers will remember my two-part translation (one, two) of an interview with the remarkable Russian patrologist, Aleksei Ivanovich Sidorov, author of ten books and more than 100 articles. Dr Sidorov is anything but a dry academic; he is a popular teacher at the Moscow Theological Academy and the Sretensky Theological Seminary as well as a man of burning faith and great enthusiasm. I hope to translate another interview with him in the very near future.

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