Lost for Words:
Theological and Philosophical Vocabulary in the Aftermath of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon (451) has been responsible for one of the most remarkable and long-standing splits within Christianity. Conceptual differences between Chalcedonian and (Miaphysite) Non-Chalcedonian Christianity have been lasting for more than fifteen hundred years, and, despite the advancement of the ecumenical dialogue in recent decades, these conundrums prove to be hard to overcome. One of the results of the contemporaneous theological interchange has been the acknowledgment of differences in the vocabulary employed by the supporters and the detractors of the Council. One such example is the use of philosophical language in sixth and seventh century debates, which consequently made room for different terminological interpretations of the nature(s) of Christ. This special issue of RES aims to bring together studies on the understanding of vocabulary differences and similarities between the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian Christian traditions. We invite papers from historians, philologists, theologians and philosophers on the debates that took place in the aftermath of Chalcedon till nowadays. We are particularly looking to contributions on the use of philosophical concepts in a theological frame, such as (but not limited to) genus, species, definition, predication, existence, participation, motion, activity, power, soul, body etc. that may prove relevant for understanding their similarities and differences of use within the Greek, Syriac, and Latin languages. Papers emphasizing the social and political background related to the emergence and development of Chalcedonian debates are also warmly welcome.
Deadline for submitting the papers: July 1, 2019
Jewish Christian Dialogue and the Orthodox Churches
When talking about Orthodox Christianity in the context of the Jewish-Christian dialogue, a stark disproportion between East and West becomes visible. More precisely, there is a sharp contrast between Orthodoxy and other Christian confessions in what regards the commitment to, and the interest in, embarking on such a dialogue. In 2010, through one of the issues of its Review of Ecumenical Studies, the Institute for Ecumenical Research initiated the exploration of the Jewish-Christian dialogue from the perspective of the Eastern-European theological and social context. The continuation of this discussion will be the object of our RES no. 2/2019, in which we seek answers to the following questions: in what state is the Jewish-Christian dialogue in Easter-European countries? What was the echo of Western Jewish-Christian dialogue in Eastern countries? Should the protestant and roman-catholic dialogue model prove inadequate in the Orthodox context, what would be the defining element of a Christian orthodox approach that would endorse the undertaking and carrying of a Jewish-Christian dialogue? What are the theological issues and other related aspects that hamper such a dialogue?
Attention should also be given to the prospects that would open up for the orthodox world through a Jewish-Christian dialogue. In what way does the possibility for a Jewish-Christian dialogue foster the ecumenical encounter and conversely? Both rabbinic Judaism and orthodox patristic Christianity share a long history of living together, which has been marked by conflicts and efforts for a minute delineation of their respective identities. What would be the gain now of the prospect of jointly searching for common grounds, as compared to the time of struggle for primacy and even for the suppression of the other?
Patristics and Ecumenism
While the Church Fathers enjoy a special authority in the Orthodox Church, which is also acknowledged in the Roman Catholic Church, in the Protestant tradition their authority bears a slightly different understanding. The Protestant principle sola Scriptura makes it clear that the Bible is the only source of divine revelation (or at least a privileged one), and nevertheless Calvin, Luther, or Melanchthon regarded the Fathers of the Church with great respect, considering them authoritative commentators of biblical texts. Recent research has brought to light testimonies according to which the initiators of the Reformation were well read in some of the writings of the Fathers of the Church. Moreover, one cannot overlook the fact that the Orthodox neo-patristic movement has conducted a major part of its work on Patristic editions and related research initiated by both Roman Catholics and Protestants.
The importance of patristic heritage for the ecumenical movement was brought back into discussion by the participants in the Consultative Council for the preparation of the 10th World Council of Churches Assembly. The Council stated the need for a re-reading of the patristic heritage for the revitalization of the whole ecumenical movement.
RES number invites teachers, scholars and all interested to reflect upon the actuality of the Fathers’ writings for the ecumenical dialogue and to discuss issues such as: Does patristic theology build bridges or rather draws barriers for the ecumenical dialogue? Are the Fathers of the Church used in all denomination in all types of discourses – from devotional to academic discourse? Have the writings of the Fathers fueled controversies in the history of theological debates? Are Patristic writings the norms for defining authentic faith or sources for popular devotion? To what extent did theologians in different confessions have mutually influenced the approach of patristic writings?
Deadline: September 15, 2018
Contributions will be published in English or German and are to follow RES guidelines. http://www.res.ecum.ro/guidelines/
Migration is not a mark of our time – it has existed in all times. But today it is at the top of the political agenda – and it shapes the ecumenical coexistence of denominations. A significant number of the members of Oriental Orthodox Churches now live in the West. This also applies to Orthodox churches to an increasing extent. The situations in which diaspora communities find themselves lead to completely new challenges.
One of these challenges is the swift increase of the number of interconfessional marriages. It was therefore not by chance that this matter was one of the most controversial points on the agenda of the Holy and Great Synod of Crete in 2016. While individual churches invoked the prohibition of interconfessional marriages, as expressed in early-church canons, others emphasized pastoral responsibility and therewith the possibility of complying with the rules in a less strict of a manner.
RES 3-2018 seeks to address interconfessional marriages, especially the cases in which one of the spouses is a member of the Orthodox Church. How do different Orthodox churches ponder upon this possibility, and how do their ecumenical partners see it? Can there be different rules for the Diaspora than in the case of majoritarian churches? How can one understand the difference between akribeia and oikonomia? Is it understandable to partner churches, or does it lead to unsolved theological questions? Is the question of how and to what extent marriage is understood as a sacrament crucial? What are the pastoral practices in introducing marriage, in child rearing, in the involvement of the partners in their own ecclesial community? Are there liturgical models that express the ecumenical dimension of interconfessional marriage? Have there been – in the history of the church – different solutions to these questions?
Deadline: June 15, 2018
Contributions will be published in German or English and are to follow editorial guidelines:
CHURCH AND POLITICS
Churches are part of society and, as such, come always in touch with existing political issues. This applies even more so if and insofar as they are active in the social field. Churches can’t avoid the need to take a stand since government action affects them directly. Both majority and minority churches can co-operate with the state on common concerns; but they are also called upon to protest, in other cases, and as part of their prophetic ministry.
In the Christian Orthodox tradition, the church is understood both as divine and man-made institution; for all its limitations, this definition indicates that the worldly-historical dimension belongs to its essence as well. In the tradition of the Reformation, God’s Word is at the centre, calling for faith and discipleship within a historically developed body of the Church. In both cases, the task is to determine the ministry of the Church in this world so that it tallies its source in God’s plan of salvation. The Christian creed that God became man implies an unquestionable turn to the world. This lives on the belief that the Risen One has “all power in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28, 18). At the same time, however, Christians are aware that worldly authorities have a leadership that they cannot elude (Rom. 13, 1-7, 1 Pet. 2, 13-17); just as Jesus himself had not eluded it (Jn. 19, 11). It is in this spirit that the Christians of the first centuries have also endured persecutions.
Are such biblical instructions still valid today, or have the parameters shifted? The relationship between church and state has always had a certain ambivalence to it. Church and state have often lived in symbiosis with one another and supported each other, as it has been expressed in certain models: the “Byzantine Symphony”, the caesaropapism, the doctrine of the two swords and others. At the same time, however, one gets a completely different perspective, since history has also an eschatological dimension from the view-point of the Christian faith. Can we learn from history? Which political order fits best the mission of the church? Should the Church seek to promote human rights in all countries of the world, as the basis of society, and thus pluralism and tolerance? How serious is the temptation of nationalism? In what areas of society is collaboration recommendable, and where are state action opposed to the values of the Christian faith, in a way that forces churches to put into practice their prophetic ministry?
Deadline: March 15, 2018
Contributions will be published in German or English and are to follow editorial guidelines:
Call for papers RES 1/2018
Language is the depository for the identity of a community: from the simplest oral, daily formulas, to the scriptural spiritual legacy preserved in literary and cultic texts, language encompasses the defining conceptions and discursive resources of a given confessional group. Alongside religion, it is a core element for social and cultural identification, and often a subtle mark for delineations of religious denominations: we speak of a Greek Church, of Russian Church, and then, again, of a Latin Church, and by switching from one language to another we seem to be also implying a movement from one confession to another.
Such a transition from one language to another occurs primarily within translation processes, especially in spaces where communities speaking different languages coexist or different languages are used for different areas of life. Here, the manners in which various types of translations are made from one language to another are suggestive for the relationship these communities have to one another, and raises questions about the extent to which linguistic identity overrides particular confessional denominations.
The Review of Ecumenical Studies welcomes contributions analyzing the ethics and politics of translations in building, and also in connecting, religious communities. What role do translations of Biblical texts and worship texts – from the Septuagint, the Vulgate, or Luther’s Bible, to contemporary adaptations of liturgical hymns in diaspora communities – play for mission and religious practices? How does the issue of “sacred languages” interfere with translation practices? Consequently, how are translations used as tools for questioning canonicity or, on the contrary, for consolidating and transferring the authority and tradition of extant religious confessions? As translation concretely facilitates a better understanding of others, how does this process enable inter-confessional dialogue? Can it be that through translation one brings about a commonality of expression, a linguistic oikumene, which might give hope for a commonality of faith as well?
Deadline: November 1, 2017
Contributions will be published in English or German and are to follow RES editorial guidelines http://www.res.ecum.ro/guidelines/ .