Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

Book Review - Eustratios Argenti

Book Reviews

Timothy Ware, Eustratios Argenti, A Study of the Greek Church under Turkish Rule: Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1964. xii + 196 pp.

This is an important contribution to the virtually non-existent history of Orthodox theology of the "post-Patristic" age. Mr. Ware is right in stating in his introduction that "four centuries of Turkish rule have left — for good or evil — a permanent mark upon the Greek Orthodox world" and that "without taking into account the way Greeks thought and felt under Turkish domination, and the way their theology developed between 1453 and 1821, it is all but impossible to understand the present condition of Greek Orthodoxy."

The book begins with an extremely valuable and well documented chapter on the general state of Orthodoxy under Islam, with a special emphasis on the relations between the Greeks and the Latins. A modern "ecumenicist" will discover here many puzzling facts which could help him to overcome some of the current oversimplifications.

Chapter II gives us an exhaustive biography of Argenti and in chapter III through IV the main theological problems debated by Argenti — Baptism, Eucharist, Purgatory and Papacy, are presented in a clear and penetrating way. Finally, a list of Argenti’s writings and a bibliography crown this scholarly book.

As said above, the importance of the book goes beyond the personal case of Argenti: it helps us to understand the tragedy of Eastern Orthodoxy at the time when the West was reaching the climax of its religious and cultural development. "Squeezed" between Latin and Protestant influences, deprived of academic centers, Orthodox theology often surrendered to pressure. Mr. Ware’s point is that in the case of Argenti it avoided such a surrender and preserved its tradition from deviations and errors.

— Alexander Schmemann

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, 1965, Vol. 9, Number 2, p. 100