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Publisher's Summary

An insider's account of the Eastern Orthodox Church, from its beginning in the era of Jesus and the Apostles to the modern age.  

In this short, accessible account of the Eastern Orthodox Church, John McGuckin begins by tackling the question "What is the Church?" His answer is a clear, historically and theologically rooted portrait of what the Church is for Orthodox Christianity and how it differs from Western Christians' expectations.  

McGuckin explores the lived faith of generations, including sketches of some of the most important theological themes and individual personalities of the ancient and modern Church. He interweaves a personal approach throughout, offering to listeners the experience of what it is like to enter an Orthodox church and witness its liturgy. In this astute and insightful audiobook, he grapples with the reasons why many Western historians and societies have overlooked Orthodox Christianity and provides an important introduction to the Orthodox Church and the Eastern Christian World.

©2020 Yale University (P)2020 Mission Audio

What listeners say about The Eastern Orthodox Church

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Very good overview of Eastern Christianity.

Excellent for every listener my only critic is there wasn't much of Orthodoxy in Canada. I'm of Ukrainian Orthodox decent and I know from our history that settling in the canadian prairies was a very difficult time for Orthodox believers with many tensions between the English and Russia as well with having no priests and the only ones that were able to come to the aid were byzantine right catholic priests. besides that McGuckin does a very good job in making the East understandable to other Christians or people in general.

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  • Pedro S.
  • 2021-04-19

Solid, brief history of Eastern Orthodox Church

Written from an emic perspective rather than taking an artificially "external" / etic approach, Fr John A McGuckin's history of the Church is a great book for interested non-specialists. He moves across centuries rapidly, honing in on the pivotal moments and personages of each era of the Church's history. He covers the apostolic and early patristic period, the rise of Byzantine Christendom, the spread into Slavic and Eastern European lands, the period of persecution first under the Ottomans then under the communists, and the spread of Orthodox Christianity into the "New World" as a diasporic/missionary outgrowth.

Most of the critiques I've seen of this book from other Orthodox Christians are, unsurprisingly, people writing against what they think Fr John is writing rather than addressing his actual statements (for example, he does not advocate for women's ordination in this book and does not say that when the Orthodox Church comes to maturity, it will ordain women; rather, he outlines the work of Elizabeth Behr-Sigel who argues this way and he does not express approval or disapproval of this dimension of her work).

The only two critiques I'd offer of this work are basically a result of minimizing the "Semitic" dimension of Christianity:
(1) he follows one popular line of thinking that traces Hellenistic philosophy as influencing Christian concepts, though he later falls back on Florovsky's apt statement that this is a "Christianization of Hellenism rather than a Hellenization of Christianity"—I would have liked to see a deeper exploration of "Christian Origins" in Second Temple Judaism a la the work of Golitzin, Bucur, Orlov, etc.
(2) he gives minimal attention to the Syriac world of Orthodoxy—I would have loved to see some engagement with the Chalcedonian & pre-Chalcedonian Syriac thought.

Given the limitations of space and making this accessible to a popular audience, I think it is understandable that he sidesteps this.

The audiobook is solid but the narrator has that British tendency to absolutely butcher foreign loanwords in the most unfortunate manner possible.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-03-19

Absolutely wonderful

This is a great book. Narration is great. Each chapter is well crafted and full of the Orthodox ethos. Thank you Fr John for gifting the world with this important work. My only criticism is that I selfishly wish you mentioned more about the Indian Orthodox Church.

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  • Azzurro Rosso Lx3
  • 2020-08-18

Excellent Experience

I highly recommend this audio book. It is quite enjoyable and has a great amount of valuable information to share.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-02-19

Excellent content and narration

This is not just a great introduction to the Orrhodox Church, it is also a useful and concise survey of early Christianity and its controversies and the history of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium), Greece, Russia, and Romania. This was very well done and a pleasure to listen to.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2022-02-06

Excellent book

Excellent history of the church. I strongly recommend listening to this audio. It was very informative.

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  • Isaiah 41:10
  • 2021-10-28

Excellent, Relatively Peerless Overview

Wonderful narration, a real pleasure to listen to. After years of studying church history and lamenting how virtually every available resource only nods quickly at the Orthodox Church-- if they mention it at all-- it is so refreshing to find a scholarly overview of Eastern Church history that is broad enough to be readable at an introductory level, detailed enough to give an accurate impression, and in depth enough to satisfy even someone who has studied the history before. I highly recommend this.

My only suggestion for improvement is that more of the signature doctrinal emphases at the very heart of Orthodoxy could have been weaved in to the historical story somehow...to give a clearer portrait of it's soul. But of course, I suppose you can read an Orthodox theology book for that. :) This is a much needed focus on the history.

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  • Marcus
  • 2021-08-06

Engaging!

It was very easy to follow, deep, and engaging. I spent hours during work listening. I hope more like it are produced.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-01-27

A good historical overview

This book traverses the long and glorious path of the Eastern Orthodox Church from roots to stem. Covering the history and theological origins of many of the core tenants of this part of the church. It was a welcome introduction to a belief system and history I find myself more aligned with then my western evangelical roots and drawn in part to the monastic tradition and the focus on the walking out of ones belief.