Bibliography of my Journey to Eastern Christianity
Introducing the Orthodox Church by Fr. Anthony Coniaris -This was the beginning of my love affair with Orthodoxy. I found this book while meandering through my college library. I checked it out along with the book next to it, The Orthodox Way, in 1993. Introducing the Orthodox Church was a great introduction for me. It helped me see the continuity of the Eastern and Orthodox Churches all the way back to the Fathers, the Apostles and even to our Lord. I have read this book so many times, I have many parts of it memorized. This indeed was the beginning.
The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware -This was my first exposure to the serious study of Orthodox Theology. The Mystical Theology outlined in this book, made deep roots in my heart due to its sheer beauty. Many people mistakenly think I became interested in Orthodoxy because of my Armenian (Eastern Christian) heritage. Actually the opposite is true. I first fell in love with the Orthodox expression of the faith and then realized that my own ancestors were of the Eastern Orthodox Tradition, which provided me with an avenue of Orthodoxy in my life.
The Apostolic Fathers edited by Fr. Jack N. Sparks -This book simply underlined for me the continuity between Orthodoxy and the Early Church. A simple but profound point; especially to one looking for that pearl of great price.
Orientale Lumen by H.H. John Paul II -After worshipping with Latin Catholics for several years, this encyclical re-opened my eyes and re-kindled the flame within my heart for Eastern Christianity. When my Latin Christian brethren ask me about my journey towards the East, I point them to this great encyclical by this great Pope of Rome.
The Orthodox Study Bible -Simply the best Orthodox Bible available to English speaking Christians. I challenge anyone to show me a better edition of the Bible -at an affordable price- that can provide such a wealth of background information about Orthodox Biblical understanding and doctrine. I came across it in a Catholic bookstore! Someone had ordered it and never purchased it. When I bought it, I was so impressed by the faithful, patristic Orthodox approach to Holy Scripture, as opposed to the very untraditional approach by many (Western) scholars. All of the major Orthodox theological themes are covered and explained in a very "user friendly" format for inquirers to Orthodoxy and there is very little bias against other traditions (if any). This Bible is even better now that it contains the new translation of the Septuagint Old Testament. I even made audio tapes reading whole New Testament books along with the notes to listen to at work and as I drive.
The Orthodox New Testament, being a much more technical and literal translation, is also a valuable text for a traditional Orthodox understanding of the Scriptures. Despite archaic language, it is very accurate and useful.
The Primacy of Peter edited by John Meyendorff -This book showed me that not all Orthodox writers were guilty of ignoring the historic leadership and primacy of the Bishop of Rome (as some Catholic Apologists claim). It explores the expressions of Roman Primacy in the first millennium and makes suggestions how that primitive form of Roman Primacy could one day be rediscovered by both sides. Some Popes of Rome have made similar suggestions. It is an excellent, thought-provoking work.
Papal Primacy by Klaus Shatz, S.J. -This book I actually found on the discount shelf at my local Orthodox bookstore (Pascha Books -a place which also played a part in my journey to Orthodoxy). What this book on the Papacy, written by a Jesuit, was doing in an Orthodox book store, drew my interest. From it I learned that current Papal prerogatives have not always been the rule throughout Church history. Many of these came about, though, for legitimate reasons due to the political and ecclesiastical needs of the Latin West. Though most of these developments were not blameworthy, nor were all of them necessarily Divinely decreed.
You Are Peter by Olivier Clement -The best, most honest, work I've ever read on the topic of Papal Primacy. It confirmed for me what my studies had been pointing me to for years. It reveals the historic tension that has always existed in the applications of Primacy and Conciliarity in the Church. While acknowledging that Orthodox often suffer from "ecclesial amnesia" regarding Elder Rome's place of leadership, it also shows that some of Rome's claims (even in early times) were never fully endorsed by the Christian East. It is a must read for anyone serious about ecumenism between Orthodox and Catholics.
The Church of Armenia by Archbishop Malichias Ormainian -This book provided me with a wealth of information about the Armenian Church. Although a little dated (written at the end of the 19th century), the timelessness of the Eastern Churches allows it to be very relevant in today's Armenian Church. Its an excellent source of information on the history, doctrine, liturgy and life of the Armenian Orthodox Church.
Armenian Church Historical Studies by Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan -The late Archbishop Tiran is reputed to be the preeminent theologian of the Armenian Church in the 20th century. This collection of his most important essays on the Armenian Church, was my own self-imposed catechesis in preparation for my reception into the Armenian Church. This book provided me with great background on our Divine Liturgy, the Church's historic relationship with the Church of Rome and Armenian ecclesiastical history. There are also some gems on the topic of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox relations. Abp. Tiran was indeed a great prophet and shepherd.
Works of Archbishop Elias Zoghby of the Melkite Greek Catholic -Archbishop Elias helped me to see that even for Eastern Catholics there was nothing wrong with historic Orthodox Tradition. It did not need fixing or correcting. If anything needed correcting it was some of the policies towards the Eastern Churches (which over the past forty years have significantly improved to Rome's credit). His writings on what took place in the 1st Vatican Council were instructive. So was his famous and prophetic Zoghby Initiative. I was introduced to his writings by a pastor of a local Melkite Catholic parish. Books like A Voice from the Byzantine East, Ecumenical Reflections and most importantly We Are All Schismatics helped me to understand better the potentially positive role for Eastern Catholics within the Catholic Church. This role is not to be "satellites of Rome" to the East but rather: keepers of Orthodoxy within the Catholic communion. After all, as the Second Vatican Council stated, it is only when Eastern Catholics can be faithful to their authentic Orthodox Tradition within Catholicism that there will ever be cause for Orthodox to take serious the notion of a reunion with Rome. All of this is to enable the Catholic Church to theologically breathe again with both lungs (East and West) as the Pope John Paul II so beautifully put it. Although this day has not yet come, it does not mean that we can not reach out to both sides and work toward unity and mutual understanding. To quote St. Paul, "This very thing I am eager to do."
Light For Life The Eastern Catholic Catechetical Series (3 Books), -This remains one of the best catechisms on Eastern Christianity I have ever read; very orthodox and inspiring. I recommend it to anyone wanting to get a basic understanding of the richness of Orthodox Tradition, spirituality, theology and life. It is a very encouraging result of the modern Eastern Catholic movement to return to their authentic Orthodox Tradition and in this endeavor I think the authors were most successful. An equally outstanding Orthodox catechism is the "Rainbow Series" by the V. Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko, which is a compendium of Orthodox Faith and Liturgy.
The Council of Chalcedon and the Armenian Church by Catholicos-Patriarch of All Armenians Karekin I -This book helped me gain a good understanding of the history of events tied to the Council of Chalcedon relative to the Armenian Church. It confirmed for me that the Armenian Church along with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches had reasons for the stance they took. Thanks to the historic Agreed Statement on Christology between both families of Orthodox Churches, this schism still needs healing in our day. This book gave me insight into Oriental Orthodox Miaphysite Christology, as opposed to Monophysite Christology -something Armenians are wrongly accused of to this day.