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Philokalia - The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts: Selections Annotated & Explained [Paperback]

Allyne Smith , G. E. H., Sherrard, Philip Palmer , Bishop Kallistos Ware
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2006 SkyLight Illuminations
The Eastern Christian “Love of the Beautiful” canbe a companion on your own spiritual journey A collection of writings by monks from the fourth to fifteenth centuries, the Philokalia more than any other text reflects the Eastern Church’s interpretation of the Bible’s meaning. Simply translated, the title means “love of the beautiful,” which reflects the text’s emphasis on mystical and contemplative practices to engage all of our senses in the acts of worship and prayer. This introduction to the wisdom of the Philokalia illuminates a text that until now has intimidated the general reader in its scholarly translations from Greek and Russian. Allyne Smith focuses his thoughtful selection on seven themes that recur throughout the five-volume work—repentance, the heart, prayer, the Jesus Prayer, the passions, stillness, and theosis. Smith’s enlightening, accessible facing-page commentary fills in the historical and spiritual context, clarifies core teachings, including the Eastern understanding of salvation, and draws connections to modern-day practices, such as contemplative prayer. Now you can experience the spiritual wisdom of the Philokalia even if you have no previous knowledge of Eastern Christianity. This SkyLight Illuminations edition takes you on a journey through this beloved text, showing you how the teachings of Eastern monks can help you become by grace what God is by nature. Allyne Smith is an Orthodox priest who writes and lectures on Orthodox theology, ethics, liturgy and spirituality, both in the U.S. and abroad. He teaches theology at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. G. E. H. Palmer also translated Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart. Philip Sherrard was a poet, translator, literary scholar, theologian and interpreter of the Orthodox tradition. Bishop Kallistos Ware is a renowned Orthodox theologian, author and translator of the Philokalia.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Jan. 2 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It would be hard to put into 20 words or 200 words the depth and breadth of the spirituality evidenced by these early church fathers. These excerpts from the writings of these holy men Will challenge, convict and encourage you along the path to a deeper relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
87 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very readable selection from a great spiritual classic Sept. 27 2006
By A Reader - Published on
The Philokalia is Orthodox Christianity's collection of great spiritual writings from the Church fathers. It is a collection of writings that range over about a thousand year period, starting around the year 400. The Philokalia itself is a multi-volume tome of very dense religious writing. I find it a bit like reading Oscar Wilde, in that each sentence is a gem, but the overall effect is that it is unreadable. It's just too dense for the likes of me (or, more correctly, I'm too dense for it.)

So I found this book a wonderful way of approaching the Philokalia. It has brief snippets from the texts -- usually two to four sentences at a time -- that express a single idea of the original author. On the facing page, the editor provides annotations that help you understand the context and intent of the passage. Reading a page or two of the selections can serve as a daily devotional that exposes you to the more mystical Eastern Orthodox flavor of Christianity.

You can't really say that you've read the Philokalia if all you read is this annotated selection, but you may well be able to say that you have been enriched by Eastern Orthodox thought.
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid resource for meditation, prayer, and theological understanding Feb. 22 2007
By Stratiotes Doxha Theon - Published on
The format of this work into sections and each section containing short quotes, makes it ideally suited as a devotional work you can read and meditate with in short bits at a time. The commentary along the facing page makes it easy to find help when you need it. Very clear, concise, and inspiring. A solid edition for theological study or purely as meditation/prayer helps. Highly recommended for all Christians but especially for those nurtured in the Eastern traditions.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An invaluable addition to spirituality and Christian literature shelves Jan. 5 2007
By Midwest Book Review - Published on
Extensively annotated by Orthodox priest Allyne Smith and skillfully translated by G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Bishop Kallistos Ware, Philokalia: The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts, Selections Annotated & Explained is a collection of writings by monks from the fourth to fifteenth centuries, embodying the Eastern Church's interpretation of biblical meaning. Emphasizing mystical and contemplative practices that engage all senses in worship and prayer, Philokalia is wonderfully made fully accessible to professional theologians and lay Christians and spiritualists alike. Each two-page spread contains a passage on the right, and annotations on the left, the better to simplify reference and understanding. An invaluable addition to spirituality and Christian literature shelves, whether as part of a church or home library.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual medicine to be taken in small doses Jan. 20 2010
By Volkert Volkersz - Published on
When I began exploring the Orthodox Christian faith in 1997, I was advised by the priest who would become my spiritual father against reading the Philokalia because it is too strong a medicine for someone just starting out. To date, I still haven't read the Philokalia, although I've seen quotes in many of the other readings I've done over the years.

When I saw this volume, Philokalia: The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts - Selections Annotated & Explained, in a bookstore a few years ago, I thought this was what I needed. I figured with the format of short quotes on the right page, and annotated commentaries on the facing page, I could zip through this book in a few days. Wrong. Even in small doses, this is strong medicine. So I ended up reading a page or two a day, every once in a while over the course of several months.

The seven sections in this book cover repentance, the heart, prayer, the Jesus Prayer, the passions, stillness and theosis. Every quote is a gem and worth the price of the book. Anyone who wants to get to the heart of Orthodoxy, theology in the sense of "knowing God," this is an excellent way to go.

I have minor quibbles with the book, one is the language in places is very archaic. One can usually figure out what the translators mean, but they come up with some interesting words. The other is the use of the word "intellect" for "nous." I'd prefer to use the word "nous," which is what most other Orthodox writers do these days.

Other than that, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to go deeper in their Christian walk. It's for all Christians, not just Orthodox. And by all means, take it slowly.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive collection of early Christian writings March 17 2007
By D. Rail - Published on
This book presents quotes from early Church fathers, and pairs them with helpful editors' notes on the facing pages. It addresses topics such as prayer and the heart, and how the individual can seek to unite with God in reverence and peace. A brisk read, but requires the reader's full attention at every turn.
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