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Bordeianu, Radu. London: Continuum, Bloomsbury Collections. Copyright Radu Bordeianu All rights reserved. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without prior permission in writing from the publishers.
Radu Bordeianu. The full text of this chapter is available as a preview. Access to the full text of the entire book is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or read more about How to Order. In line with several notable predecessors, Eastern and Western alike, Georges Florovsky has called for a departure from the previous manual tradition. As a historian, however, Florovsky did not write such a theology systematically.
I then analyze his adoption of the three offices of Christ and the designation of seven sacraments as instances of open sobornicity. I thus hope to provide a methodology of constructive engagement with the West and correct the misconception according to which Staniloae was antiecumenical, an opinion that is based on mere marginal aspects of his works.
Prior to , Orthodox theology was done either by the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers of the patristic era, or in the spirit of the Fathers in postpatristic times.
This latter period marks a decline in the quality of Orthodox theology, with notable exceptions such as Symeon the New Theologian, Nicholas Cabasilas, and Gregory Palamas. Setting aside the polemics of this 14 period, the interaction between East and West was minimal at best.
The situation changed under Ottoman rule. Given the practical difficulties to theologize freely, the East turned rather uncritically to the West: when responding to Catholic missionary activities, it used the already-made Protestant answers;  when enamored with Western models of education, Orthodoxy adopted Catholic theology uncritically or sent its youth to study at Protestant schools without prior initiation in Orthodox theology.
At that time, German, Italian, French, and English schools provided the only opportunity to obtain a higher education. Thus, the encounter between East and West resulted in the impoverishment of Orthodox theology either because of foreign influences suffered without much discernment, or because of stifling creativity for fear of the West. To what extent was Orthodox theology influenced by the West in this period?
Although key Catholic doctrines such as the primacy of the pope were repudiated, the initial version argued in favor of the doctrine of the purgatory and a specific moment in the Liturgy when the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.
The impression is created that Orthodoxy is no more than a purified or refined version of Roman Catholicism. But the theological corpus that is thereby obtained lacks or severely reduces the native genius and the ethos of the Eastern theological tradition.
This was the first outright encounter with the West. One might even have called it a free encounter had it not ended in captivity, or more precisely, surrender. But for this reason, there could be no creative use made of the encounter. Sometimes, under similar influences, a theological diversity appears in the bosom of one and the same national Orthodox Church. Russian theology of the Ukraine, which came under Polish domination, was greatly influenced by Roman Catholic theology during the 16th and 17th centuries, whereas after Peter the Great brought Russia into close cultural interrelationship with Prussia, Russian theology underwent a Lutheran influence.
But by the second half of the 18th and 19th centuries and especially in the 20th century, simultaneously with the orientation of Russia towards the Balkans, its theology became profoundly patristic and mystical. Greek theology began, by the end of the Byzantine Empire, to come under the influence of Roman Catholic scholasticism, and after the Reformation 17 up to the 20th century, some theologians came under Protestant influence, while others remained under that of the Roman Catholic.
It is true that these two Western influences were of a formal rather than spiritual nature and did not succeed in making either the Greeks or the Russians leave the essential bounds of Apostolic Tradition, so jealously guarded in Orthodoxy. We can say that. Eastern and Western theology of this period of crisis is labeled scholastic because it includes scholasticism-proper, but most of the time it refers to neoscholastic theology, with the surprising addition of Protestant theology.
What constitutes scholastic or manual theology? Intellectualist approach to faith and the world, as opposed to intellectual description of faith and its logical consequences for catechesis . Philosophy as the criterion for theological truth as opposed to development within the limits set by the Fathers.
Theology as speculative science . Concentration upon unnecessary rational speculations . Overemphasis on cataphatism, to the detriment of apophatism.
Lack of concern with a personal encounter with God theology being divorced from spirituality and the life of the Church. Separation from the liturgical life of the Church theology not inspired by Liturgy, theology not incorporated into Liturgy.
Ecclesiology understood through canons, organization, order juridical , as opposed to Eucharist and sacraments communal. Diminishment of a theocentric anthropology. There are several notable reactions to manual theology. First, the philokalic movement began in the eighteenth century with a textual compilation by Nikodemus and Makarios, and then its translation into Slavonic, Romanian and other languages.
Second, the departure from Western theology continued more intensely in the nineteenth century, when most Orthodox countries in Eastern Europe obtained political independence and ecclesiastical autocephaly.
Nicholas Afanassieff returned to the eucharistic and charismatic character of the early Church. One of his students, Alexander Schmemann, continued his work in liturgical theology and participation of the people in the public worship of the Church.
Vladimir Lossky, too, returned to the Fathers, emphasizing apophatic theology in contrast with the overly cataphatic theology of the West. All these instances of Orthodox theology mark a gradual departure from the previous manual tradition, unhealthily influenced by the West. How does Staniloae fit into this picture? First, he was not current with the developments in the theologies that he criticized because of his isolation behind the Iron Curtain. He engaged mostly with Catholic and Protestant theologies of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and with the classical Latin tradition, which he encountered early in life as a student in the West.
These theologies are frequently criticized by modern Catholic 21 theologians, too. Consequently, especially in the first part of his academic career, Staniloae used caricatures, unfair generalizations,  and his sources are sometimes hard to trace.
After he retired, Staniloae became more receptive to the changes in Catholic theology, especially concerning its more sacramental, spiritual ecclesiology. He was certain that schism could not endure. He emerged hopeful that a solution may even be found to the problem of the papacy which would integrate the bishop of Rome into the communion of the Church in a way acceptable to the Orthodox. Staniloae dedicated much energy to the study of ecclesiology and ecumenism.
As a thematic bibliography shows,  he contributed to the cause of Christian unity with 65 articles and many references in his other writings. He praised the ecumenical movement and its purpose to reestablish the unity of the Church, recommending that it must seek the most intimate presence of Christ among the faithful, as it is experienced in the Orthodox Church. This journey is reflected in his theological biography. In , Staniloae began the study of theology at the University of Cernauti.
Disappointed by the rationalistic manual theology that he was taught there, 23 he left after only a year to study Literature at the University of Bucharest.
Staniloae next went to learn Greek and study the Fathers in Athens where, unfortunately, the patristic tradition was largely ignored, just as in Romania.
Between and , he studied Byzantine history in Munich. As he translated this work, Staniloae became more and more dissatisfied with it, adopting a wholly different theological method and vision by writing in the spirit of the Church Fathers. In he published a pioneering study of the theology of Gregory Palamas, and, in , Jesus Christ, or the Restoration of Humankind.
In the latter volume, Staniloae relied heavily on Maximus the Confessor and other Fathers, as he would in all his future works. In , under pressure from the newly established communist regime, Staniloae had to resign from the Theological Institute in Sibiu and was later transferred to Bucharest. Shortly thereafter, he was the victim of an unjust communist trial, which resulted in his condemnation to five years of imprisonment.
Staniloae preferred not to talk about these terrible five years, in which he was mentally and physically abused through violent interrogations, isolation, hunger, and beatings. Here was yet another reason to depart from neoscholasticism by tying together dogma and spirituality.
Staniloae presented the spiritual aspect of both our affirmations and negations about God, culminating with an experiential, beyond-rational aspect of apophatism. Therefore, Staniloae regarded theology as a personal experience rather than an abstract philosophical system, and emphasized the complementarity between cataphatism and apophatism, characteristic of his departure from scholastic theology toward a neo-patristic synthesis.
The first source of his theology is Revelation. One aspect of Revelation is the Bible, and Staniloae might give the impression that his theology is not biblical enough. True, at times he slips into the realm of logical speculation and does not quote the Bible consistently. At the same time, his theology is profoundly biblical, going well beyond the temptation of systematic theology to use the Bible simply for decorative purposes, to support arguments that otherwise could stem from logical deductions, rather than being rooted in Revelation.
Other times, he quoted the Bible abundantly and dedicated entire books to biblical theology, such as The Evangelical Image of Jesus Christ. The other aspect of Revelation is the patristic tradition of the Church. Staniloae studied the Church Fathers thoroughly, reading the Greek authors in their original language and translating many of their works, such as the Romanian Philokalia in 12 volumes. However, Staniloae considered that the works of the Fathers needed to be taken a step further, due to their limited cultural and even theological character.
A third source is contemporary thought. Dumitru is both clearly open to modern ideas and at the same time finds here concepts that crystallize in a striking way intuitions of the Fathers.
He does not try to reduce the notion of the personal to something patristic as some Orthodox writers sometimes seem to do ; rather he recognizes in this aspect of modern thought the deepening of a patristic insight. Due to communist isolation, however, Staniloae was not heavily influenced by his contemporaries. Born and raised in Communist Romania, I have bitter memories of this oppressive regime.
When I began to study Staniloae, my natural inclination was to emphasize the negative consequences of living and writing under communist isolation. But in I have interviewed Roman Braga, 27 a Romanian intellectual and hieromonk who knew Staniloae closely; they were convicted at the same trial.
Braga was the first to point me to the positive consequences of writing under communist persecution. By being isolated from the West and even from the rest of the Orthodox world—says Braga—Staniloae developed a positive affirmation of the Orthodox faith as opposed to a theology in opposition to other theologians. His theology could thus grow naturally, without being framed by polemics originating outside his tradition.
I agree. But this does not mean that isolation is good in and of itself. For the reasons mentioned above I consider that Staniloae was the first Orthodox theologian to successfully break away from the manual tradition. I am not accusing Russian theologians such as Bulgakov, Florovsky, or Lossky of neoscholasticism.
Teologia dogmatică ortodoxă. Tom 2 (Opere complete, #11)