Friday, July 22, 2016

On the Tree of the Cross (Holy Trinity Publications)

The doctrine of atonement is a tricky one as its origin in the English language is due to Tyndale improperly translating the Greek word for reconciliation. But what exactly is atonement? Some see it as the "at-one-ing" of God and man, by Christ's saving work. Others use it in conjunction with terms like expiation (making reparations for the guilt of wrongdoing) and propitiation (the act of appeasing God). When put with words like that, it's no wonder some scholars squirm and feel uncomfortable. In large part, Eastern Orthodoxy has steered clear of the term atonement and viewed it as an incorrect Western notion. However, one man, Fr. Georges Florovsky, devoted his life to clarifying and spreading the Orthodox teaching of atonement and showing that the division between East and West on the subject of atonement isn't as clear cut as many like to make it out to be. The book On the Tree of the Cross tackles this subject.

On the Tree of the Cross is divided into two parts. The first part of the book is a collection of papers which were delivered at the First Annual Patristic Symposium in Honor of Fr. Florovsky. The second part of the book is a collection of Fr. Florovsky's writings on atonement, much from previously unpublished and/or untranslated works. Some authors of the papers from the first part include Fr. John Behr (Dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary), Archimandrite Irenei Steenberg (Director of the Institute for Orthodox Studies), and Fr. Matthew Baker (Memory Eternal). In one paper, we see St. Irenaeus' view on atonement, with Jonah as a key example. In another paper, the Ascetic Fathers are our guides to atonement, both personal and intercessory. In the writings of Fr. Florovsky, we are presented with four writings that give us a small sample of his work. They were written over decades of time, but what is clearly seen in all of them is Christ's atoning sacrifice throughout all of Creation.

There were sometimes I had a difficult time reading Fr. Florovsky's works, but I attribute much of that too it being a translation from another language. That quibble aside, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the papers in the first part of the book. With all the references to Patristic writings, it felt like this book was compiled with me in mind. If you love Patristics, like myself, and want a better understanding of atonement, then I highly recommend this book. I leave this review wondering if there will be future books from other Annual Symposiums in Honor of Fr. Florovsky. I know I would be a customer if so!

This book was provided to me for free by Holy Trinity Publications in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!