This clear and accessible introduction describes the life of the Orthodox Churches of the Christian East from the accession of the Emperor Constantine in 312 up to the year 2000. It explores the nature of the various churches of the Christian East, both Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian Orthodox, the Church of the East, and Greek Catholic Churches. It explains both the common traditions and the different and sometimes divisive local characteristics. The distinctive Orthodox approaches to the themes of liturgy, theology, monastic life and spirituality, iconography, popular religion, mission, politics and the schism between East and West are discussed in turn. A final chapter examines the response of the Churches to their new freedom following the collapse of communism and the prospects for the future. For Christians of the West, a knowledge of Orthodoxy can open up fresh ways of looking at the Christian faith.
'The Rev John Binns here gives us a critical but always respectful summary of the oldest, strangest and most defiantly paradoxical of the Christian denominations.' Independent on Sunday 'Binns has written a fair-minded and profound study.' Independent on Sunday 'The book will enable readers to discover the different forms that Eastern Christianity has taken ... they will find a wealth of information about both the past and present of the Orthodox churches, and will be left with a lively impression of Christian communities.' Hugh Wybrew, Church Times 'Immensely readable, this is a 'popular' book in the best sense: it makes the fruit of extensive research, scholarship and personal experience accessible to a wide audience of non-specialists. ... An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches represents a substantive contribution to a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the Orthodox tradition and its place in today's world. It will be read with profit both by those seeking literally an introduction to the Orthodox world, and also by those who regard themselves as quite familiar with it.' Sobarnost 'This is a wonderful book, written with deep affection and understanding, which ought to be read by every member of the Diocese of Sourozh and every person to whom the life of the Orthodox Church and its development in the twenty-first century is a matter of interest and concern.' Sourozh, A Journal of Orthodox Life and Thought '... Bins manages - in just 250 pages - to give a formidably comprehensive and readable account of the histor, culture and ecclesiology of the eastern Churches, skipping artfully from the ascetic struggles of the desert to the arcance squabbles of the modern diaspora.' The Anglo-Hellenic Review 'Binn's Introduction is balanced, readable and accessible ... it is an excellent model of how to study someone else's tradition, with a view to understanding how they see themselves.' The Ecumenical Review '... excellent overview of the history, church life, and contemporary situation of the orthodox churches ...' Journal of Ecclesiastical History 'John Binns has done a worthwhile task in writing about the complexity and richness of the Orthodox Church for the general reader. ... Binns' encyclopaedic grasp of his subject gives the reader a fascinating insight not only into the past history of the churches but also into their contemporary witness in today's world. ... The book can be recommended to any who want a sympathetic objective introduction to the Orthodox Church both in history and as it exists today. Binns has collected a truly heroic amount of information in 250 pages and it is hard to see a better starting place than this book.' The Expository Times