II. Georges Vasilievich Florovsky (1893-1979): Russian intellectual historian and orthodox theologian. (Religious Historians, East and West).
FOR MANY READERS of Modern Age, the Very Reverend Georges Vasilievich Florovsky (1893-1979)may not be a household name, and yet his singular achievement and reputation as an influential Russian philosopher and historian, and as the preeminent Orthodox Christian theologian of the twentieth century, is certainly well known within the Orthodox world, but also within the theological circles of Western Christianity. He was particularly a towering figure in the Ecumenical Movement for Christian unity, to which he devoted a major part of his long life and work as an early pioneer in the 1930s, an architect in the formation of the World Council of Churches, and an influential builder from within the Faith and Order Commission, where he made the voice of Eastern Orthodoxy heard by witnessing to the historic experience and the faith of the early undivided Church. It was Father Florovsky's destiny to live most of his life in the West, to have an excellent command of the Western currents of thought, and yet to be and to remain profoundly an Orthodox Christian from the East.' Because of this balanced orientation in both the East and the West and his universal recognition, Florovsky earned the reputation of being the most ecumenical teacher of Orthodox theology in the twentieth century. His theological work has provided a new orientation and a fundamental criterion for contemporary theology, including Orthodox theology.
Because of Florovsky's work and ecumenical influence, any discussion of Christianity today with reference only to its typical Western manifestations in Roman Catholicism and Reformation Protestantism, without reference to Eastern Orthodoxy, is no longer an historically and intellectually acceptable position. In previous times it was almost routine to speak only of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Christianity of the West, as if there were no other expressions of Christianity to be studied and discussed. This longstanding attitude had dismissively overlooked the Orthodox Christianity of the East, and had allowed the West to go unhindered on its own historical road, relegating to virtual oblivion the historical fact that, for the first one thousand years of Christianity, the West had actually shared the common faith and tradition of the East where Christianity had experienced its earliest beginnings and formative developments. It was Florovsky who articulated the experience and the faith of the early undivide d Church through a free, responsible, and direct encounter with the West, and who persistently challenged Western theologians not only to resume in earnest the long neglected relations between East and West, but also to reclaim for themselves that common heritage of all Christians, which to a large extent had been lost for the West in the historical process but preserved in the Orthodox Churches of the East. It was Florovsky, again, who argued effectively that Western civilization, claiming continuity with ancient Hellenism, is incomprehensible without the Christian Orthodoxy of the Eastern Roman Empire that flourished for a thousand years beyond the fall of ancient Rome. Unlike the schematization of some early Slavophiles who drew a radical separation between East and West, Florovsky, as someone who was highly conscious of the importance of history and of the catholicity of the Church, defended consistently the historical fact that the East and the West are not independently whole units that can stand in and by themselves. They actually belong together as fragments of one unified world that should have never been divided. It was well after the Schism in 1054, and primarily after the Crusade of 1204, that the East and the West finally developed definitively separated and autonomous ways, and cultivated a consciousness of self-sufficiency that has proved to be harmful to both sides.
It was the life-long conviction of Florovsky that any illusion of self-sufficiency had to be transcended mutually by both the East and the West from within the historical and theological background of the early Christian unity of the undivided Church of the first millennium. By transcending this division of Christendom, the early and authentic unity and catholicity of the undivided Church in the East and the West could once again be regained and consummated. And it was to this valiant goal that he had dedicated his life and work.
Florovsky, always the consummate historian in his work, does not bring to our attention only the Western deviations in Christendom; he also unreservedly presents the fact that Orthodox theology itself, in its long historical journey, has experienced a kind of "pseudomorphosis," and has been taken into a long "Babylonian captivity" under both Roman Catholic and Protestant influences. These influences began gradually after the fall of Constantinople of the Eastern Roman Empire to the Turks in 1453, and intensified in the following centuries, spreading also to the north in Russia with Ivan III, who drew closer to Rome and ushered in the Latin penetration during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and later with Peter the Great, who actually institutionalized Protestant influences throughout the eighteenth century.
It was Florovsky, moreover, who called for a true theological revival and a faithful reintegration in both the East and the West that would effectively unlock for our own times the truth in the Holy Scriptures and in the Sacred Tradition of the Church. He wanted to present the message of Christ creatively as a living reality by re-interpreting it to be a challenge to each new generation--just as the Fathers of the early Church did for their own time. His clarion call to "go forward with the Fathers" and his programmatic "neo-Patristic synthesis" were indeed the basic hallmarks of his own life and theological work. In time, however, Florovsky's theological emphases became focal points, serving as an effective criterion to bring about an authentic revival of modern Orthodoxtheology, without Western deviations and influences, and more fully faithful to the experience and the Patristic tradition of the early undivided Church. This concern for the restoration and proclamation of the truth of undivided Christianit y was and is indeed the abiding legacy of the life and thought of Father Georges V. Florovsky.
This general introduction to the life and work of Florovsky, for the benefit of a new generation of readers, is particularly timely now, some twenty-three years after his death, when more and more of his earlier works are being translated and published in English and in other languages as well, and his abiding influence and impact are becoming more and more universally recognized and appreciated in America, in Europe, and particularly in his own native Russia, where once again now her religious past is being researched and studied by the new generations. (2)
In the Fatherland
From his early life in the cosmopolitan city of Odessa, Russia, young Georges Florovsky, son of a Russian Orthodox priest, seemed destined for a theological service to the Church. It is significant that he entered into this field only after many years of productive study and research in various other non-theological fields, such as history, philosophy, science, and literature. His excellent humanistic studies guided his early maturation in the heady philosophical and religious atmosphere of the 1910s in Russia. He was clearly the beneficiary of a vibrant Russian educational and cultural experience which flourished toward the end of the nineteenth century and produced many gifted scholars. By the time Florovsky had entered the university at eighteen, he had already read many scholarly books on the history of Russia, on the history of the Church, and on the contemporary Russian religious thought. Nor was his early reading limited to Russian texts. His love of reading led him to other languages and literatures. After reading Walter Scott, for example, in Russian translation, Florovsky decided to learn English. In time Scott was followed by many other English authors. During these formative years Florovsky also acquired a reading knowledge of French and German as well as Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. His early linguistic prowess obviously facilitated greatly his scholarly pursuits in the years ahead. Given his fathers's vocation, Florovsky was also enriched by making regular attendance at religious services an important part of his boyhood. He was drawn less to the ceremonial aspects of worship and more to its intellectual and spiritual content. His was definitely not a facile and uncritical religiosity. He found the liturgical books to be full of theology and profound spiritual emotion and meaning. In time he had come to know the liturgical services by heart, and was well aware that there was no tension between worship and theology, that they clearly belong together. Reflecting on his past, Florovsky would readily admit to his students: "My theology I have learned not in the school, but in the Church, as a worshipper. I have derived it from the liturgical books first, and much later, from the writings of the Holy Fathers.... I read systematically the works of the major Fathers, partly in original, partly in translations. I studied primary sources before I turned to the learned literature." (3)
Beginning in the autumn of 1911, Florovsky undertook intensive studies at the University of Odessa. In addition to his studies in philosophy, beginning with Plato and Aristotle and ending with Schopenhauer and Mill, Florovsky also studied extensively ancient, medieval, and modern history. After completing successfully the final examinations of the university, Florovsky was awarded the university diploma with first class honors, a degree which qualified him to teach in any school in the empire below university level. During the next three years he undertook a variety of teaching assignments in the schools of Odessa, while at the same time preparing for the master's degree examinations. Florovsky's success with the qualifying examinations made him eligible to compete also for the licensia docendi, a certificate required by the Imperial educational system for teaching at the university level. This he did by delivering successfully two required public lectures without notes before a plenary session of the univers ity faculty. By the time Florovsky began teaching philosophy at the University of Odessa in October 1919, the winds of social and political revolution were blowing fiercely throughout the vast country, prompting four members of the Florovsky family, in January 1920, to leave their homeland under dramatic circumstances.
The devastation of the civil war and the revolution must have been a traumatic shock to Florovsky who was a reflective, studious, philosophically inclined, and religious young man. From the start Georges Florovsky knew somehow that there would be no place for him in the Soviet regime. He also knew that no philosophy or history would ever be accepted that was not taught from the Marxist point of view. Years later, reflecting back on this dramatic change in his life, Florovsky said: "My conviction was that I would never never return. It was only a feeling, of course, because at the beginning of 1920 nobody knew what would happen, not even the Bolsheviks. But I had a conviction that I was leaving forever, and I was quite sure that I would find something to do in this other world." (4)
Exodus to the West
The first stop on his European journey was at Sofia, Bulgaria, where Florovsky spent his two year stay tutoring the young children of the Russian diplomatic representative in Sofia, editing and proof-reading for the Russian-Bulgarian Publishing House, participating in the activities of the Russian Religious-Philosophical Society, and engaging in an elite discussion circle, which later gave birth to the so-called "Eurasian Movement." It was in Sofia that Florovsky completed his dissertation on Alexander Herzen, and met briefly Xenia Ivanovna Simonov, who was en route to Prague, and who would later become his wife.
While it was the Eurasian Movement that became the vehicle by which Florovsky first came to public notice as a powerful and original thinker; stationed at the front ranks of the younger members of the Russian emigre intelligentsia, he soon broke ranks with them. The Eurasians held that the war in Europe and the revolution in Russia were not simply political catastrophes but signs of the breakdown of European culture. Because of the cataclysmic changes that were taking place at that time, they began to believe that the West was dying and that a new age would emerge from the East. Even before this political tendency appeared among the Eurasians, Florovsky's link with them was tenuous, and broke completely, as he himself recounts: "My break with the Evraziitsy came...in Berlin, in August1923 ...I was rejected, and...I rejected them.... My rejection was absolute, for I said: "There is an intolerant spirit here; you want to be involved in political intrigue and that is not for me."' (5) Later, in an essay entitled "The Eurasian Allurement," Florovsky argued that the historical problem raised and illuminated by the Russian Revolution could never be solved by the political and Slavophile concerns of the Eurasians. Seeing the impasse of all ideologies and philosophies of culture, Florovsky argued, not for another alternative rational ideology, but for the revitalization of culture, for a spiritual reconstruction, without the deviations and perversions of previous generations. Florovsky recoiled from any political or even social program to fight revolution with its own violence or ideological utopianism. He wanted to lift the struggle onto another spiritual and religious plane through the renewal of Orthodox Christian faith and life. He began to understand that Russian intellectual history had gone wrong, ending in cataclysmic revolution, and he wanted to ask the right questions and t o find better alternatives to the paths actually taken. The articulation of this challenge, which became a basic theme in his thought, also led Florovsky to a lifelong effort to respond and to meet this challenge through his philosophical and theological work.
Thanks to a bold and constructive program set in motion by President Thomas G. Masaryk of Czechoslovakia to assist the thousands of Russians who had been displaced by war and revolution, Florovsky was offered a scholarship to pursue his scholarly work in Prague. During the decade of the 1920s no other European city had as high a concentration of the Russian intelligentsia as did Prague. Here, in April 1922, one year after they met in Sofia, Georges Florovsky married Xenia Ivanovna Simonov, a highly educated and talented painter, a translator, and a devout member of the Orthodox Church, who became not only his life long beloved companion but also his most exacting critic. During this period in Prague, Florovsky had begun anew his teaching career. On June 3,1923, amidst all the traditional dignity and solemnity of Russian academic life, he also defended his revised thesis on "The Historical Philosophy of Alexander Herzen." While traditional, the defense of his thesis was somewhat unusual because of the sharp c lash of opinions it provoked. Florovky's critics apparently found fault with his staunch identification with the Orthodox Church and his commitment to religious faith as the authentic starting point for all human endeavors, including philosophical enquiry. Florovsky had carried out his sharp criticism of Alexander Herzen, who was then considered to be the holiest of the "holy fathers" of the Russian cultural and religious revolutionary tradition, on the basis of the Orthodox theological tradition.
With his thesis behind him and his advanced degree in hand, Florovsky could now devote his full energies to teaching and writing through the Russian University Center in Czechoslovakia. During these years Florovsky struggled with the philosophical problems as posed by Western philosophy and produced some of his most significant essays on philosophy. (6) Florovsky wanted to defend the principle of freedom in every area of existence, particularly of the human person in history. He opposed vehemently the deterministic elements in Western philosophy and denied every form of determinism, natural or historical.
It was through his early study of the Greek Fathers of the Church that Florovsky found complete confirmation of the principle of freedom, not only for history and cosmology, but also for every attempt to understand and to interpret reality and truth. By criticizing Western rationalism and determinism, Florovsky articulated his belief that through a resolute use of freedom, man could avoid all types of impersonal utopias and idealisms--Roman Catholic, Calvinist, Communist, or even Capitalist. The most significant confirmation of personal freedom was seen by Florovsky in the possibility of a person to resist and to overcome nature itself, that is, those elements in nature which, in Christian thought, are considered to befallen, sinful, and, therefore, in need of restoration and transcendence. This idea of an ascetic achievement through spiritual growth and transformation is pervasive in the thought of Florovsky, and is not reserved only for the ascetics of Church history, but is seen as a way and a style of li fe for all Christians in all ages. He believed that the will of man can be healed only through freedom and an ascetical and creative effort, starting with a sacrificial commitment of the self to Christ and the Gospel that begins with Baptism and matures through a lifelong participation in the liturgical life of the Church. It is in the fellowship of the Church that a person is not only set free from the negative elements of the self and of society, but also attains to the maturity and stature of Christ. And it is this discipline of Christian Truth, as revealed and embodied in the life of the Church, that Georges Florovsky readily admitted to from an early stage in his life and thought.
Soon after the St. Sergius Institute of Orthodox Theology was founded in Paris on April 30, 1925, Florovsky was invited by Dean Sergius Bulgakov to join the faculty as Professor of Patristics. Florovsky's interest in Patristics dates from his days in Odessa, but he only began to studythis field seriously in 1924 when he was in Prague. In Patristics, it must be noted, Florovsky discovered his true vocation. Henceforth Patristic thought was to become his intellectual home, the foundation of his world view, the standard by which he would judge and find wanting the course of Russian religious thought and of Orthodox theology in general. In fact, Patristic theology became for Florovsky the criterion for all authentically Orthodox theology and for an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the Sacred Scriptures of the Church. Patristic theology was also the source of Florovsky's many later contributions to and criticisms of the Ecumenical Movement. It was through his ongoing research of the original sources an d his constant teaching of Patristics that Florovsky actually mastered the field. Throughout his lifetime he taught and wrote about the pre-Nicene Fathers, the golden age of the Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the Byzantine theologians up to the fifteenth century, as well as the history of Russian theology. For a man of his scholarly stature and erudition, it is astonishing to note that Florovsky was an autodidact in theology and had never earned a theological degree in the strict sense. All of his many subsequent doctoral degrees were honorary, bestowed upon him, deservedly no doubt, by countless institutions of higher learning that acknowledged his singular achievements everywhere he went and worked throughout his long life.
It was during the pre-war years of the 1930s that Florovsky did a great deal of research in various European libraries and produced his most important writings. Most notable among his writings of this period were his Fathers of the Fourth Century (7) and The Byzantine Fathers of the Fifth to the Eighth Centuries. (8) These two volumes reflect the in-depth study of the Fathers and the salient characteristics of Florovskian scholarship: judicial analysis of primary material, richly detailed factual documentation, succinct and penetrating generalizations, a broad historical perspective, a terse and compelling style, and always an extensive bibliography that invariably included his very latest reading. These works placed Florovsky at the front ranks of Patristic scholarship. While praise for their erudition and power was unstinting, they also clearly pointed out that "everything was not stable and whole from the very beginning" in the life of the early Church, as she struggled to define and defend her faith. The fact is that these writings became a turning point in modern Orthodox theology, as the sequence of events in the life and work of Florovsky clearly demonstrate.
In 1932 Florovsky accepted ordination to the priesthood of the Orthodox Church. This important decision came rather naturally for him, given his early background in a clerical family, and his responsibilities as a priest and as a pastor provided many opportunities to enrich his theological work through the liturgical life of the Church, which he so profoundly appreciated from his youth. Moreover, his experience as a priest of the Church, imbued by the spirit of worship and pastoral service, freed him from the strictures of a school theology and added a powerful dimension to his theological work and witness. In 1935 Florovsky delivered an important lecture on "The Tasks of Russian Theology" at St. Sergius Institute that critically outlined the history of Russian religious thought. A year later in Athens, Greece, he delivered at the First Congress of Orthodox Theological Professors two additional important papers: "Western Influences in Russian Theology" and "Patristics and Modern Theology." Through these two lectures Florovsky challenged his colleagues by calling on all Orthodox theologians to overcome the so-called "pseudomorphosis" of Orthodox theology that had come about in past centuries, under both Roman Catholic and Protestant prevailing influences.
It must be remembered that the fateful Schism of 1054 had left the two major geographical areas of the Church to go their own separate ways for a very long time. The Western Church developed through Scholasticism and the Renaissance to the Protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, to the Enlightenment and finally to the modern age. The Eastern Church underwent a series of historical misfortunes, brought about by the militant expansion of Islam in the Middle East and the Balkans, with the final collapse of the Eastern Roman Empire in 1453. While the Christian Empire came to an end in the East, the Orthodox Church actually survived there for four centuries under Islam. In the Russian lands to the north, the Orthodox Church even flourished, notwithstanding the Western influences she experienced. Not too long after the Balkan countries gained their independence from the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century, Russia itself experienced the Bolshevik Revolution, ushering in the anti-Christian Communist rule which gradually engulfed the countries of central and eastern Europe except Greece.
Out of this broad historical background and unlike most of his contemporaries, who drew their inspiration and influence from the more current trends in Western Europe, Florovsky reached back into the past history of Russia and beyond into the tradition of Byzantium and the Greek Fathers of the undivided Church in the East. It was from this early and normative tradition of the Church that Florovsky not only drew his inspiration but also actually established his now famous theological framework known as "the neo-Patristic synthesis." In the long historical journey of Christendom the writings of the Fathers had to a large extent become dead historical documents, and Florovsky wanted to revive them from within, to recover the mind of the Fathers and the existential questions with which they struggled in their own time to develop their own theological synthesis. Following the Fathers, in a neo-Patristic synthesis, always means moving forward, not backwards; it means fidelity to the Patristic spirit and not just th e Patristic letter. Fathers and teachers of the Church are those who, in the measure of their humility before the truth, receive the gift of expressing the catholic consciousness of the Church, and we learn from them, not only their personal opinions or conceptions, but also the catholic testimony of the Church.
By calling for a return to the Fathers of the early Church, Florovsky also called for an authentic re-Hellenizing of Orthodox Christianity. This does not mean at all an ethnic Hellenism, nor the Hellenism of antiquity with its anti-Christian elements, but a Christian Hellenism, one that has been baptized, transfigured, and incorporated into the very reality of the Church as an eternal and perennial category of Christian existence. When Christianity ventured out into the pagan world, she encountered Hellenism. The Good News of the Gospel and later the dogmatic theological definitions of Christianity became expressed and fortified precisely in the categories of a Christianized Hellenism. Biblical prophecy found its actual consummation precisely in Christian Hellenism. The truth of the Old Testament was already incorporated in the New Testament, and the New Testament as a Greek Book was already the beginning of a Hellenic synthesis that has become an inseparable part of the Church. The theological definitions of the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils only completed an ongoing process of synthesis that has become an inseparable and essential element of the Church. Any attempts to escape from Christian Hellenism invariably become backward relapses into the untransfigured and pre-Christian Hellenism of antiquity, which was in time actually transcended and assimilated by the Patristic synthesis of Christian Hellenism that makes up the world of Orthodox Christianity.
The powerful and pioneering call of Florovsky for a creative "neo-Patristic synthesis" in Orthodox theology was heard with keen interest by Orthodox theologians in 1936, particularly by Greek Orthodox theologians, who began to take Florovsky's thought seriously and to bring about an astonishing renewal in Orthodox theology that is continuing to the present time. Florovsky, however, cautioned that for Orthodox theology to recover its independence from Western influences it is not enough simply to return to its Patristic sources and foundations. Returning to the Fathers does not mean abandoning the present age, escaping from history, or quitting the field of battle with contemporary problems. The Patristic experience must be rediscovered, preserved, and brought into life for the present time and conditions. Independence from the influences of the now non-Orthodox West should not be an estrangement from it. A radical break with the West would provide no real liberation. It is not enough to refute or reject West ern errors or mistakes; they must be overcome and surpassed through a new and creative act of encounter. Orthodox theology has been called upon to answer non-Orthodox questions from the depths of her catholic and unbroken experience, and to confront Western Christianity, not with accusations but with the testimony and the truth of Eastern Christianity. And this precisely has been the fundamental focus and abiding legacy of the thought and work of Georges Florovsky throughout his lifetime.
Soon after the Congress in Athens, Fr. Florovky's magnum opus was published in Russian: Puti russkago bogoslaviia, and only recently published in English as Ways of Russian Theology. (9) In this book Florovsky has presented a brilliant historical and theological analysis of Russian theology as it went through a long process of successive westernization that gradually brought about a schism in the Russian soul. Florovsky traces this process as having its beginning in the fifteenth century, well before the formal westernization policy of Peter the Great was put into effect in the eighteenth century. By the end of the fifteenth century, many in the Russian lands began to perceive the West as something more real than the destroyed and conquered Byzantium. Consequently it was understandable for Russia to begin developing and strengthening her links with the West. The Latin world itself drew nearer to Russia, through central Europe, Ukraine and Poland, while the world of Christian Hellenism seemed in time more and more remote and virtually forgotten after the deep inroads of militant Islam into the Balkans. As an original and creative thinker, Florovsky struggled with this historical problem: Russiahad taken over Eastern Christianity and the whole of Byzantine culture, and yet Orthodox Christianity there had failed to develop naturally and creatively on the basis of her Orthodox presuppositions. Russia somehow opted rather to accept more or less uncritically the influences of the West, and therefore to be successively misled and distorted first by Latin scholasticism and later by Protestant pietism and idealism.
Ways of Russian Theology, expectedly, proved to be very controversial among the emigre community of Paris. Reactions were polarized between those who praised the book and those who damned it. Florovsky had made quite clear where his sympathies lay, and there was no middle ground. Obviously the book contained a stern and uncompromising critique of Russia's religious past, and this cut all too deeply into the prevailing atmosphere of exultant religious nationalism in the circles of Russian emigration. Nor was the book to the taste of the liberal and socialist emigre press. Nevertheless, even the scorching criticism of a Nicholas Berdiaev could not conceal the enormous erudition, the broad and extensive scholarship of Florovsky's magnum opus.
Even though Florovsky enjoyed a close personal and professional relationship with Nicholas Berdiaev, especially through the discussion groups founded and headed by Berdiaev himself, which provided Florovsky his initial ecumenical experiences, their friendship gradually became strained and alienated. Unable to shed the notion of his radical intelligentsia days that all priests were obscurantists and reactionaries, Berdiaev first reacted very negatively to Florovsky's ordination to the priest hood in 1932. Then the publication of Ways of Russian Theology, with its severe assessment of the twentieth-century Russian religious renaissance in which Berdiaev had played a leading role, added to the rift. While Berdiaev remained in Paris promoting the resurgence of Orthodox religious philosophy, Florovsky was now spending much more time in England trying to build bridges between the Orthodox and the Anglicans. Moreover, when Berdiaev was increasingly drawn toward an intellectual accommodation with Soviet Russia, Floro vsky was mainly occupied with the Ecumenical Movement and the creation of the World Council of Churches, which became his major concern in the years ahead. While the friendship between these two intellectual giants was strained and distant through all of these developments, it was never really broken. Looking back, Florovsky remembered fondly the early years with Berdiaev, but steadfastly insisted that his religious philosophy was at times outrageously off the mark.
At the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute there had developed what became known in Orthodox circles as "Parisian Theology." There were two different types of theological approach. One type had its roots in the tradition of Russian religious and philosophical thought of the nineteenth century, and was itself an offspring of the Western tradition, especially German Idealism. This was referred to as the Russian school, whose representatives, regardless of any mutual disagreements, attributed primary importance to the problems and ideas of contemporary religious thinking. Chief representative of this group was Bulgakov. On the opposite side, standing virtually alone, was Florovsky, who had chosen the sacred Tradition of the Church as the cornerstone for the Orthodox theological revival. He, as noted above, called for a return to the Fathers of the Church, to the sacred Hellenism which had been baptized and purified as an eternal and perennial category of historical Christian Orthodoxy. In other words, Flo rovsky called for a reevaluation of the Russian achievement in the light of the inheritance of Christian Hellenism, rather than an attempt to reevaluate the ancient Tradition of the undivided Church in the light of the modern Russian experience.
Consequently a bitter theological controversy arose over the so-called Sophiological teaching of Father Sergius Bulgakov, the dean of St. Sergius Institute, and Florovsky. This experience was perhaps the most painful of Florovsky's public life, especially in view of the mutual respect and affection the two men enjoyed ever since they met in Prague in 1923. In relating his understanding of this controversy, Florovsky would emphasize how men like Bulgakov, Berdiaev, and others belonged to the generation responsible for the religious renaissance of the twentieth century, and their personal story involved a return to the rank of believers by way of rediscovering the Church. "They could never forget this renaissance, for them it was basic and decisive. Whereas for me this had no meaning, for I never knew a period when I was dissatisfied with the Church as the foundation and pillar of truth. For me Christian truth had always been in the Church." (10) Bulgakov and others were interested in perpetuating and expanding the Russian religious renaissance of the twentieth century. Florovskyon the other hand could not see himself beginning with a recent event which had no existential meaning for him and which was merely an accident in the long history of the Christian Church. In the end, it was Florovsky who was fully vindicated in his theological approach and whose influence became the abiding legacy in modern Orthodox theology.
The Church and the Churches
Florovsky's first big ecumenical meeting was in Edinburgh, Scotland, in August of 1937, when the Second Conference of Faith and Order met to discuss "The Church of Christ: Ministry and Sacrament." As chairman on the section on Ministry, Florovsky worked diligently with many other prominent members of the conference. On the subject of ministry in particular, being the most thorny of all the subjects discussed, there was no agreement reached by the participants. When an apparent verbal agreement between the Lutherans and the Presbyterians emerged on the doctrine of Grace, Florovsky bluntly pointed out that there cannot be any real agreement on doctrinal matters as long as Lutheranism and Calvinism continue to exist as such. In fact, he insisted, it is important and necessary to disclose openly the real divergences among Christians and to acknowledge differences in thought that seem irreconcilable. He believed that this was the only proper way to advance genuine ecumenical dialogue. From Edinburgh on, this bold drawing attention to the real depths of the problem of the separation of the Churches from the Church would become the Florovskian hallmark at ecumenical encounters. From his earliest involvement in the Ecumenical Movement, Florovsky challenged theologians and ecumenists alike "to get beyond the modern theological disputes, to recover the true 'catholic mind,' which would embrace the whole of the historical experience of the Church in its pilgrimage through the ages." He had no illusions regarding the present situation of Christendom. Even though unity and the union of people in Christ is the very purpose of the Church, "yet, Christians are divided, Christendom is divided. The Christian world is in schism." The first step in overcoming this absolute schism is to acknowledge it courageously and then to work arduously toward a creative recovery of the catholic mind of the early undivided Church.
One of the significant outcomes of the Edinburgh Conference was the consideration and approval of an earlier recommendation to review the whole Ecumenical Movement and to form a World Council of Churches. Fourteen leading persons were appointed to plan for a constitution of the new body, and Florovsky was one of them--charged with the responsibility of organizing the World Council of Churches. With his election to the Committee of Fourteen, Florovsky had come to the pinnacle of the Ecumenical Movement, a place he would retain for the next twenty-five years, working indefatigably to promote and achieve essential Christian unity.
In the years before the war, Florovsky continued his travels throughout Europe to teach, to lecture, and to participate in ecumenical encounters. When the war broke out, the Florovskys were in Switzerland where they lingered for a while, awaiting developments. Finally, they opted to go to Yugoslavia and spent the war years in Belgrade. When the Florovskys managed to get back to France after the war, Paris was still recovering from the war, and life there was difficult. By now the Russian emigre community there was diminished, confused, and severely altered. Back at St. Sergius Institute, while circumstances had changed considerably, Florovsky was able to resume his teaching duties and to continue his travels lecturing and attending conferences as before. Once again he toured England and many other university centers in Europe. One of these post-war travels on behalf of the Ecumenical Movement brought Florovsky to his first visit to America in Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania, to prepare for the World Council of Churches.
During these post-war years Florovsky was immersed in ecumenical work and his writings reflect the central theme on the agenda of the approaching constituent Assembly of the World Council of Churches: "The Church: Her Nature and Task," and "Le corps du Christ Vivant: une interpretation orthodox de L'Eglise." In these and many other essays, using the approach of his "neo-Patristic synthesis," Florovsky presented the Orthodox doctrine of the Church to an ecumenical audience. "The Church, as the Body of Christ, stands mystically first and is fuller than Scripture....Christ appeared and still appears before us not only in the Scriptures; He unchangeably and unceasingly reveals Himself in the Church, in His own Body....The Church acted according to the spirit of the Gospel, and...the Gospel came to life in the Church, in the Holy Eucharist. In the Christ of the Eucharist Christians learned to know the Christ of the Gospels, and so His image became vivid to them." On the opening day of the Amsterdam Assembly in 19 48, Florovsky had been chosen to be the theological spokesman for the Orthodox delegation and to deliver his address on the "Ecumenical Aims and Doubts." In this address, as in many of his other ecumenical documents," Florovsky spoke eloquently about the problem of longstanding Christian disunity and separation, noting always the apparently insurmountable obstacles that are not just a misunderstanding or a disagreement among Christians. He also concluded with a word of hope for the essential reunification of Christendom that is really grounded upon divine grace. "Christians are united not only among themselves, but first of all they are one in Christ, and only this communion with Christ makes the communion of men first possible in Him. The center of unity is the Lord and the power that effects and enacts the unity is the Spirit. Christians are constituted into this unity by divine design; by the will and power of God."
In his ecumenical encounters, Florovsky sought to depict in clear and uncompromising terms the Orthodox position on basic theological issues, in contradistinction to other points of view. At one point, he even challenged the legitimacy of the very name of the new Council having the word "Churches" in the plural. He proposed that the following statement be inserted in the formal documents: "Even the name of the World Council of Churches implies a situation which should not be; we agree to call our denominations 'Churches' in a sense which the New Testament could never allow." In a later report on his rejected statement, he was even sharper in his phrasing: "The separated 'confessions' do not have the right to call themselves 'Churches."' Obviously such language derived from a very specific New Testament understanding of the Church as the one Body of Christ and as the Una Sancta of the Orthodox Creed. The body of Christ is one, and therefore the Church is one. From this Orthodox Christian point of view, it is as impossible to have more than one Church as it is to have more than one body of Christ. What we have in fact is a breach in Christendom, a breakdown of Christian unity on essential doctrines of faith that bring about divergences and separations. Florovsky's work at the Amsterdam Assembly, a culmination of all his previous efforts, had clearly established him as a theologian of world renown and the leading Orthodox voice in the world movement for the reunification of Christendom. Soon after the Amsterdam Assembly, in September 1948, when Florovsky and Xenia Ivanovna departed Europe to begin a new phase in their life in America, he was clearly destined to continue in this role in the new world.
The Pilgrim Continues His Way in America
Unlike some of their previous moves, the Florovskys emigrated to America voluntarily. Florovsky was invited to teach and serve as dean at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary that was just ten years old in 1948. It should be noted that, after the 1917 Revolution in Russia, the hegemony of the Russians in American Orthodoxy, dating from 1766, when Alaska and the Aleutian Islands were formally annexed to the Russian Empire, came to an end. A series of ethnic Orthodox jurisdictions began to develop, strengthened considerably by the great influx of more and more immigrants from Europe after World War II. In his new post, Florovsky sought to build up the prestige of St. Vladimir's Seminary as an academic institution responsible for the training of future priests in the Orthodox Church in America. He emphasized the English language, higher academic standards, a strengthened faculty, and a broader and deeper curriculum. In his strong appeals for this innovative program, Florovsky spoke of Orthodox Christiani ty as a universal truth, as an authentic presentation of the eternal message of God, which cannot and must not be reduced to a nationality. The School, he believed, must create prophets with spiritual and intellectual strength, with burning convictions and the power of persuasion, able and willing to bring the true knowledge and the true understanding of Christianity to an ecumenical world. The message of Christ, while eternal and always the same, must be proclaimed in a creative way, reinterpreted again and again so as to become a challenge to every new generation. The legacy of the past must be presented as a living reality to each new generation. The glory of Orthodoxy should not be seen merely in the legacy of her past, but in the privilege and the responsibility which Orthodox Christians have for the present and the future, working diligently to make the Orthodox Faith deeply rooted in the life of their American homeland. To achieve this goal the use of English in the classroom and gradually in the litur gical worship was necessary and imperative, not only for the Russian community, but also for the other ethnic communities of Orthodox Christians in America.
In the United States, Florovsky was soon heavily involved not only in the educational work at St. Vladimir's Seminary and the Russian Orthodox community but also in other academic institutions. He taught regularly at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary, and was frequently invited to lecture at Boston University, Episcopal Theological School, Andover-Newton Theological School, Harvard University, University of Washington, and at many other institutions. In addition he was also active in various learned societies and congresses, including his ongoing participation in the Ecumenical Movement, which increased steadily and involved frequent travel to serve on commissions, study groups, consultations, and editorial committees. His personal participation was mostly in "dialogue and confrontation," as he often admitted, working with small "molecular" groups to formulate common understanding or agreement on key contemporary theological issues.
One of the most central and contentious issues in the Ecumenical Movement was still "the nature of the unity we are seeking." Even from the time of Edinburgh in 1937, with Florovsky playing one of the leading roles, it had been established that the ecumenical goal was the realization of "the idea of the Church as one living body, worshipping and serving God in Christ." This called for both an inner spiritual unity and an outward unity as well, expressing itself in mutual recognition, cooperative action, and corporate unity. In the Third World Conference of Faith and Order, held in Lund, Sweden in 1952, Florovsky welcomed the final report stating that "We agree that there are not two Churches, one visible and one invisible, but one Church which must find visible expression on earth." Florovsky again warned that the way to one visible Church on earth would not be easy or quick. While he spoke about the "ecumenism in space" that had to date been achieved to a certain extent in the broad ecumenical involvement, he also urged that what the separated Christians must now achieve was the distant goal of visible unity for which he coined the phrase "ecumenism in time." This meant for him a serious evaluation of the historical process of Christian thought and devotion, particularly that of the first millennium, which, he urged, must not be simply ignored. Current Christian convictions must be submitted to the test of the Sacred Tradition of the Church, which, in the midst of all conflicts and dissensions through the centuries, still survives and still continues in Orthodox Christianity. In the view of Florovsky, this theological evaluation of the historical process of Christianity was now the only secure way to recover a sense of true direction for the present and the future; this had now to become the essential task of the Ecumenical Movement.
There were many who yearned to end the centuries old scandal of Christian disunity by simply allowing the World Council of Churches to acquire some form of ecclesial definition. This approach was sternly resisted by the Orthodox with Florovskyas their forthright spokesman. "The World Council of Churches is not and must never become a Super-Church," he would argue. The purpose of the Council is clearly "to bring the churches into living contact with each other." Membership in WCC "does not imply that each church must regard the other member churches as churches in the true and full sense of the word." Later on, in subsequent conferences such as the one in Montreal in 1963, he would continue to argue the same point that "the Council is not the Church; it is not seeking to be a church or the Church; it offers itself as a servant of the churches and of the Church."
The culminating ecumenical event for Fr. Florovsky was the Second Assembly of the WCC in Evanston, Illinois, in August 15-31, 1954. The relatively small group of thirty Orthodox delegates played a key role in this Assembly. The theme was: "To stay together is not enough; we must go forward." To do this the Orthodox witness stood out in stark contrast to other prevailing opinions. Again Florovsky spoke for Orthodox Christianity: "No Christian can ignore the fact of Christian division...the greatest achievement of the modern Ecumenical Movement is in the courage to acknowledge that there is a major disagreement. The very sting of the Christian tragedy is in the fact that, in the concrete setting of history, many divisions have been imposed, as it were, precisely by the loyalty to Christ and by sincere zeal for true faith." Florovsky went on, again, to urge the Assembly that the distant goal of visible unity could be reached through a conscious practice by the churches of "ecumenism in time." This, of course, a s noted, meant a critical analysis of any false hopes based upon the here and now of our troubled and distorted world. A true basis for human hope must be an eschatological hope, an ultimate hope that will be sought in the Church of God--the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the New Testament and the Creed of the early undivided Church--serving as the pillar and ground of truth. The Orthodox declaration was forthright: "The return of the communions to the faith of the ancient, united, and indivisible Church of the seven ecumenical councils shall alone produce the desired reunion of all separated Christians." Such stern statements by the Orthodox made it clear that the way ahead was indeed long and hard. As a sign that the ecumenical community intended at least to consider with seriousness the approach to unity being proposed by the Orthodox, the Central Committee of the WCC endorsed the initiative of Florovsky and others to take up the study of "Tradition and Traditions," a theme that is addressed s o richly and fully in so many of Florovky's extensive corpus of writings.
Once again Georges Florovsky emerged, this time from Evanston, as a truly international religious figure. He stood at the peak of his public career. Although judged by some to be controversial, he was universally recognized as a major twentieth-century theologian and the most profound thinker and articulate spokesman for the Orthodox Church at that time.
When in the Fall of 1954, Fr. Florovsky was asked by the episcopal Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in America to lay down the deanship of St. Vladimir's Seminary, for reasons of inner policy and administration, Archbishop Michael, of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, a close friend of Florovsky from their earlier meetings in London, invited him to be Professor of Patristics and Dogmatic Theology at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. Shortly after that appointment, Florovsky was also appointed Lecturer in Eastern Church History at the Harvard University Divinity School. In addition to these new appointments, Florovsky continued for another year to teach a lecture course at Columbia University and a seminar course at Union Theological School as a commuting professor. The Florovskys moved to Cambridge in the Summer of 1956. In time Florovsky's teaching at Harvard was extended to the Slavic Department of the University, where his broad knowledge of Russian intellectual h istory and literature was shared with his many graduate students.
During his years in New England, Florovsky, as always before, carried a heavy academic course load of teaching, but he also extended himself in a pastoral way to all the Orthodox of the area, especially the youth. His intense involvement with the Ecumenical Movement also remained unabated. As a member of the Central Committee of the WCC, the Executive Committee, and the Commission on Faith and Order, he continued to travel, to attend meetings, and to be engaged in encounters and dialogues dealing with fundamental theological issues, which were always at the forefront of his interests, and which would in time invariably appear in some written form.
Florovsky observed with regret that after Evanston the WCC began gradually to shift from concern for the state of the Church to a concern for the state of the world and its manifold social problems. He, of course, believed that the primary purpose of the Ecumenical Movement was the rapprochement among the churches and the restoration of Christian unity. Consequently, he found this shift of interest and focus from overcoming the divisions within Christendom to resolving the material and social problems of the modern world very troubling. While completely acknowledging the urgency of these problems and the global need for their resolution, Florovsky believed that the WCC itself could not produce any distinctively Christian statement on social issues that would bring about the essential Christian unity that was missing from Christendom. While the humanistic social work undertaken by the WCC is certainly praiseworthy in itself, Florovsky argued that it is not really ecumenical in the strict sense because it does not contribute to the essential restoration of Christian unity.
From his particular theological perspective Florovsky considered Amsterdam in 1948 and Evanston in 1954 to be "ecumenical events," while New Delhi in 1961 and Uppsala in 1968 were not ecumenical events because they had forgotten about the Church. While the New Delhi Assembly in 1961 marked the point when the Orthodox churches of Eastern Europe joined the WCC, and the Orthodox could now voice their theological and historical concerns with sufficient numbers, the shift toward social issues had already taken place. As a veteran delegate to Uppsala, Florovsky was impressed by the spiritual dynamism of the newly founded churches of the African states, but was disappointed by the virtual avoidance of the fundamental theological issues that had been the primary preoccupation throughout his life. In fact, he observed, the interest of the leadership had shifted to social problems to such an extent that the Assembly of Uppsala had no distinctive religious or Christian character.
Decisions were now being made in the WCC by men who were disinterested in dogma and theological definitions, and who were not deeply informed about the history of the Church, her Tradition and Christian culture. Those who were so informed and who would bring in difficulties by raising problems of history and theology would be edged out to the side. The interest had definitely shifted by the time of the New Delhi Assembly and the churches were now trying to find what they have in common and forgetting the "rest." They did not realize that "the rest" is exactly what comprises the individuality of the traditions and denominations. To forget these for the sake of unity is to achieve a superficial, an unreal, and certainly not a lasting unity. The new leaders of the WCC were no longer interested in doctrines and dogmas and could not understand that these theological truths have an existential dimension. Instead of theology and doctrine guiding their actions, they preferred the humanitarian schemes and the practic al actions of social accomplishment to improve the state of the world, but not necessarily the actual state of the Church. The spirit of secularism had penetrated into the Ecumenical Movement as well.
Florovsky continued undaunted to be the great voice of Orthodoxy and to uphold the need for serious theological scholarship and discourse, as opposed to social occasions and superficial speeches. After all, he argued, it was indeed through theological discourse and study that a real ecumenical advance had actually been achieved through the devout and dedicated work of several generations of theologians. No one seriously doubts today that the new and more adequate existential understanding of the Word of God, of the Holy Scriptures, is the fruit of devout biblical scholarship. Church historians, in spite of their continuing disagreements on many crucial points of interpretation, have drawn for us a new picture of the "common history" of the Church in the East and in the West, with a fuller understanding of "divided Christendom." Patristic scholars have demonstrated the perennial value of the ancient Tradition, which is existentially valid and challenging now no less than in the past. Liturgiologists have quic kened the understanding of devotional values, and even the historical soundings of this field have enriched the inner life of contemporary worshippers and believers. We find ourselves in a changed and renewed world, better equipped for grasping ecumenical problems, due largely to the indefatigable labor of those who, like Georges Florovsky, concentrated their efforts in the field of theological research and meditation.
On virtually every theological inquiry, as seen in his vast theological writings, Florovsky had the singular gift to discern the essence of the matter and, from his immense erudition, offer an authentic Orthodox response. Often enough he would take an otherwise familiar theme and offer a completely different orientation derived from the Orthodox theological tradition that so richly and fully constituted his very being. This was, after all, the essence of his programmatic neo-Patristic synthesis, which regrettably was never fully worked out and completed by him.
When at the age of seventy Florovsky retired from Harvard University as Professor emeritus, he soon found himself at Princeton University, where he continued his teaching and scholarly research into the final years of his life. At Princeton, as in Harvard, Holy Cross, and St. Vladimir's, he taught many graduate students, who have become priests and scholars, theologians and professors in their own right, and who are now continuing in many parts of the world the distinctive theological work that he himself set in motion. (12)
Before the Vatican Council II in 1964-1965, Rome had maintained an attitude of extreme reserve with regard to the Ecumenical Movement. This Vatican Council changed all that and a Joint Working Group was established between Roman Catholic theologians and representatives of the WCC.Florovsky was encouraged by the participation of Roman Catholic theologians in Faith and Order, and saw in this great promise for serious theological discussions. From the broad historical perspective of Florovsky, the Ecumenical Movement was just getting started, and, as a veteran optimist, he saw hastiness and impatience as a very serious danger to the ponderous work of ecumenism for the reunification of Christendom.
By this time, however, a new divergence had come about even in theological thinking through various schools of thought, such as demythologization, Heilsgeschichte, existentialism, liberationism, secularism, and even the end of religion and the death of God "theologies." This was of course the "new theology," but at least these were theological discussions within each confession and the Ecumenical Movement as a whole. Much of this new theology was simply in opposition to the older theology, and Florovsky was especially critical of any tendency among theologians--Protestant, Roman Catholic, and even Orthodox--who started with human quarries rather than with the divine message of Revelation. To begin with "the world instead of the Word" is the wrong method, he would object strenuously.
The last major ecumenical meeting Florovsky attended was the Fifth Faith and Order Conference in Louvain in 1971, when he was seventy-nine years old. Not only was he simply there, but he was still a force, an active participant in the Ecumenical Movement, as he was for thirty-seven years. No other participant, Orthodox or non-Orthodox, had served longer. He was indeed a true veteran-a pioneer, an architect, and an ongoing builder of the Ecumenical Movement. During the last decade of his life, Florovsky was especially gratified to see the growing interest in his thought and his works that had blossomed not only among Orthodox and non-Orthodox theologians, but also among Slavic scholars interested in Russian history and culture.
His beloved wife, Xenia Ivanovna, lived until 1977 and Georges until August 11, 1979. They lie asleep in the Lord, side by side, in St. Vladimir's Cemetery in Trenton, New Jersey, awaiting the general Resurrection.
Georges Florovsky was indeed "la grande voix" of Orthodoxy from the early 1930s in France, and he continued to be that throughout his long life and career. Now, twenty-three years after his death, he is still regarded as the preeminent Orthodox theologian of the twentieth century whose writings are being published and republished in English, Russian, French, German, Greek, and many other languages as well. There is also considerable research being done in his unpublished writings, which have been deposited in the archives of the St. Vladimir's Library and the Princeton University Library. Through his own many writings and the writings of his students, the voice of Florovsky is still being heard and listened to with profound respect and appreciation. Every year the Orthodox Theological Society in America faithfully sponsors the annual Georges V. Florovsky Lecture. His influence has been wide and deep in the Orthodox world, particularly among the generations of Greek Orthodox theologians who have taken up his c hallenge for a neo-Patristic synthesis to restore the Patristic criterion in Orthodox theology and to revitalize the true meaning of Christian Hellenism.
A new and potentially very significant area for the influence of Florovsky and his thought, particularly as expounded in his Ways of Russian Theology, is in the revived theological work being done in Russia today, where his writings are becoming increasingly known and deeply appreciated by those who will hopefully continue where he left off in the area of Russia's cultural history.
In a handwritten address found among his papers after his death, (13) Florovsky spoke about a "theological will" which he did not complete, but which would have included three main points, which effectively summarize his thought: 1. Orthodox theology must be a historical theology. Christians do not believe in ideas, but in a Person, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior who is a historical Person. Our God is the God who acts, who has acted in history, from the creation of man, who is still acting, and who will act at the end of time. Theology is the study of divine acts. 2. In studying the Acts of God, we see 'the scandal of particularity," that is to say, salvation has come "from the Jews" and has been propagated in the world through the medium of Hellenism. To be a Christian means to be a Greek, since our basic authority is forever a Greek Book, the New Testament. The Christian message has been forever formulated in Greek categories. The old Hellenism was dissected, baptized, regenerated, converted to become th e Christian Hellenism of our dogmatics--from the New Testament to St. Gregory Palamas in the fifteenth century, and even to our own times. One cannot revert back to Hebraism or even to preChristian Hellenism, and all attempts to reformulate the historical dogmas of the undivided Church in categories of modern philosophies should be resisted as misleading and fruitless. 3. Theology must be carried out not merely to satisfy our intellectual curiosity, but in order to live, to have life abundantly in the Truth of God, which is not a system of ideas, but a Person--Jesus Christ. In this task the Fathers of the Church can be only sure and safe guides.
All of Florovsky's endeavors throughout his life were in fact guided by this theological program which is also guiding present and, hopefully, future generations of theologians seeking to know and live by the abiding Truth of the Christian Faith. From the beginning of his life Florovsky had a philosophical bent; he sought not only to know things but to understand their meaning for himself. He had a responsible world view and was able to project and to defend it consistently. His interest was focused on problems and their solutions. His books and essays on the Fathers of the Church focused on the theological struggles of the early Church to define the faith and the truth of Revelation in Sacred Scripture. His aim was a genuine theological awakening that could truly begin when not only the answers but also the real questions of the past were recalled and reexamined for our time. Florovsky was certainly not an "archaist"; his call for a return to the Fathers was not merely to quote them, but to enter into their mind and into the spirit of the great Christian Tradition. By apprehending the approach of the Fathers to the problems they confronted--the classic problems of interpreting the Christian Faith to an alien world--we equip ourselves for creative resolutions to our own living problems and tasks, within an equally complex and alien world. The rare gift of historical intuition made Father Georges Vasilievich Florovsky feel "at hom e in all ages" and, one might add, in all places as well. This too, no doubt, was the aim of his life's work as he journeyed as a faithful pilgrim from East to West: to revive and restate the Orthodox theological tradition of the Una Sancta and to make it relevant and meaningful not only for our present modern age, but for all ages.
(1.) See Andrew Blane, "A Sketch of the Life of Georges Florovsky," in Georges Florousky: Russian Intellectual and Orthodox Churchman, ed. Andrew Blane (Crestwood, N.Y., 1993), 11-217. This is by far the most complete biographical study to date on Florovsky. An earlier study in the form of an intellectual biography by George H. Williams, "Georges Vasilievich Florovsky," in The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, Vol. XI, No. 1(1965), 7-107 focuses on the first part of his American career (1948-1965) with a general introduction to his earlier life in Russia and Europe.
(2.) The Collected Works of Georges Florousky, ed. Richard S. Haugh (Belmont, Mass., and Vaduz, Liechtenstein, 1972-1989), Vols. I-XIV. While this publication of Florovsky's writings is not yet complete and has experienced certain difficulties, it is presently the most available. Of the 376 published titles in the Florovsky corpus of writings, only 123 titles are included in Volumes I-IV and XI-XIV of the Collected Works: I. Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View; II. Christianity and Culture; III. Creation and Redemption; IV. Aspects of Church History; XI. Theology and Literature; XII. Philosophy, Philosophical Problems and Movements; XIII. Ecumenism I, A Doctrinal Approach; XIV. Ecumenism II, An Historical Approach. Volumes V and VI contain the Ways of Russian Theology, and Volumes VII-X contain the Fathers of the Church from the 4th to the 8th Centuries.
For a chronological list of Florovsky's works see The Heritage of the Early Church: Essays in Honor of the Very Reverend Georges Vasilievich Florousky, ed. David Neiman and Margaret Schatkin (Rome, 1973), 437-451. For a more complete list of his writings with information on original languages, translations and types of writing see Georges Florovsky: Russian Intellectual and Orthodox Church Churchman, 341-401, but also 407-429 for a general description of the Georges Florovsky Archives at Princeton University (53 boxes), and 431-436 for the Archives at St. Vladimir's Seminary (89 boxes).
(3.) Blane, 153.
(4.) ibid., 33.
(5.) Blane, 39.
(6.) See The Collected Works, Vol. XII, "Philosophical Problems and Movements."
(7.) Volume VII in The Collected Works.
(8.) Volumes VIII and IX in The Collected Works.
(9.) Volumes V and VI in The Collected Works.
(10.) Blane, 61.
(11.) See The Collected Works, Vol. XIII, "Ecumenism: A Doctrinal Approach," and Vol. XIV, "Ecumenism: An Historical Approach."
(12.) These scholars are too numerous to mention here individually. Indicative of a renewed interest in the Fathers of the Church, which Florovsky so consistently promoted, can be seen in the current, many-volume Bible Commentary in progress: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, General Editor, Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove, III.), which focuses on the reading of Scripture with the Church Fathers.
(13.) See Blane, 153-155. A recent publication in German develops the full scope of Florovsky's thought: Christoph Kunkel, Totus Christus: Die Theologie Georges V. Florouskys (Gbttingen, 1991). In pp. 448-454 there is a helpful list of literature on Florovsky that includes the European sources. Another recent publication from Greece: Synaxe: A Quarterly Journal of Orthodox Studies, Vol. 64 (Oct.-Dec. 1997), contains seven studies in honor of Father G. Florovsky and his on-going neoPatristic synthesis.
PETER A. CHAMBERAS is an ordained priest of the Orthodox Church who serves a parish in Concord, New Hampshire.
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|Author:||Chamberas, Peter A.|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2003|
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