Recommended Reading List

Recommended Reading by Topic

Nota Bene: The Following titles are not listed in order of importance. Some sections are ordered alphabetically while others are ordered chronologically. It goes without saying we do not endorse every word of every work we are recommending and so we kindly remind the reader to use caution and discernment in reading, specifically in regard to academic works. 

Click the links to be taken to each section:

Canon Law, Church Fathers, Church History, Contraception, Council of Ephesus (431), Council of Chalcedon (451), Council of Constantinople II (553), Council of Lateran 649, Council of Constantinople III, Council of Nicea II (787), Council of Constantinople IV – “Photian”, Council of Blachernae (1285), Council of Constantinople V (1341-1351) – “Palamite”, False Council of Florence (1431-49), Council of Jassy/Iasi (1642), Council of Jerusalem (1672), Essence/Energy Distinction, Filioque, Forgeries, History (of Byzantium), History (of Doctrine), History (from primary sources), Introductions to Orthodox Christianity, Liturgy, Lives of Saints, Papal Primacy, Photian Schism, Prayer, Theology, Theosis.

Canon Law

John Anthony Mcguckin. The Ascent of Christian Law : Patristic and Byzantine Formulations of a New Civilization. Yonkers, New York, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2012.

Viscuso, Patrick. Sexuality, Marriage, and Celibacy in Byzantine Law : Selections from a Fourteenth-Century Encyclopedia of Canon Law and Theology : The Alphabetical Collection of Matthew Blastares. Brookline, Mass, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2008.

Church Fathers

The standard set is a multivolume set edited by Philip Schaff in the late 19th century and consists of Three multivolume sets: 

  1. “The Ante-Nicene Fathers” (from immediately after the New Testament to the year 325) 
  2. “The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Set I” (14 volumes consisting of the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo and St. John Chrysostom)
  3. “The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Set II” (14 volumes from the years 325 to 787)
  4. A fourth part can be found here: Early Church Fathers – Additional Works in English Translation unavailable elsewhere online (tertullian.org) It includes thousands of pages of additional writings of Church Fathers as well as some notorious heretics such as Severus of Antioch, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Origen of Alexandria, Nestorius, Dioscorus of Alexandria, Philoxeno of Mabug. 

Though these can be purchased hardcover, they are very expensive and can be found in digital format online at www.ccel.org, www.tertullian.org, www.newadvent.org. The plus side is how comprehensive the collection is while the downside is the cost and that much scholarship has been done since these texts were translated. Newer translations of single works also have the advantage of better introductions and footnotes. 

Irenaeus, Saint Bishop Of Lyon. On the Apostolic Preaching. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997.

Basilius Magnus Caesariensis, and Verna E F Harrison. On the Human Condition.

Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2005.

Joannes, Chrysostomus Saint, and Graham Neville. Six Books on the Priesthood. Crestwood, New York, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2015.

Chrysostom, John, et al. On Marriage and Family Life. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1986.

Saint, Cyril, and John Anthony Mcguckin. On the Unity of Christ. Crestwood, Ny, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2000.

Bishop, Isaac, and Mary Hansbury. On Ascetical Life. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2010.

Church History

Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. London; New York, Penguin Books, 1993.

E Glenn Hinson. The Early Church: Origins to the Dawn of the Middle Ages. Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1996.

Oskar Skarsaune. In the Shadow of the Temple : Jewish Influences on Early Christianity. Downers Grove, Illinois, IVP Academic, An Imprint Of Intervasity Press, 2014

Apostolic Fathers. Early Christian Writings. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1968.

Alexandre Faivre. The Emergence of the Laity in the Early Church. New York, Paulist Press, 1990.

Chitty, Derwas J. The Desert a City : An Introduction to the Study of Egyptian and Palestinian Monasticism under the Christian Empire. Oxford, Blackwell, 1999.

Eleanor Shipley Duckett. The Gateway to the Middle Ages : Monasticism. Ann Arbor, University Of Michigan Press, 1963.

Merdinger, J E. Rome and the African Church in the Time of Augustine. New Haven, Conn.; London, Yale University Press, 2005.

Meyendorff, John. Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions: The Church, 450-680 AD. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1989.

Ekonomou, Andrew J. Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes: Eastern Influences on Rome and the Papacy from Gregory the Great to Zacharias, A.D. 590-752. Lanham, Md, Lexington Books, 2009.

Louth, Andrew. Greek East and Latin West: The Church, AD 681-1071. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimirs Seminary Press, 2007.

Aristeides Papadakis, and John Meyendorff. The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy: The Church 1071-1453 A.D. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994.

Plested, Marcus. Orthodox Readings of Aquinas. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2015. [A historical overview of the reception of Thomism and Scholasticism within Orthodoxy. Best if read in conjunction with material on the Council of Florence] 

Panchenko, K A, et al. Arab Orthodox Christians under the Ottomans 1516-1831. Jordanville, N.Y., Holy Trinity Seminary Press, 2016.

Contraception

Noonan, John T. Contraception. Belknap Press Of Harvard University Press, 1965.

Council of Ephesus (431)

Price, Richard, and Thomas Graumann. The Council of Ephesus of 431: Documents and Proceedings. Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2020.

John Anthony Mcguckin, and Alexandrinus Cyrillus. St. Cyril of Alexandria : The Christological Controversy. Leiden E.J. Brill, 1994.

Council of Chalcedon (451)

Price, Richard, and Michael Gaddis. The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon. Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2010.

Price, Richard, and Mary Whitby. Chalcedon in Context: Church Councils, 400-700. Liverpool, England, Liverpool University Press, 2011.

Council of Constantinople II (553)

Price, Richard. The Acts of the Council of Constantinople of 553: With Related Texts on the Three Chapters Controversy. Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2012.

Volker-Lorenz Menze. Justinian and the Making of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Council of Lateran 649

Price, Richard, et al. The Acts of the Lateran Synod of 649. Liverpool, Liverpool University Press, 2016.

Council of Constantinople III (681)

[Fr. Richard Price has not yet translated the acts of this council into English and at the moment, the next best thing is extracts from the acts taken from Vol. 14 of Schaff’s Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers listed above. They can be accessed here: CHURCH FATHERS: Third Council of Constantinople (A.D. 680-681) (newadvent.org) 

Council of Nicea II (787)

Price, Richard. Acts of the Second Council of Nicaea (787). S.L., Liverpool Univ Press, 2020.

Council of Constantinople IV – “Photian”:

Dvornik, Francis. The Photian Schism. Cambridge {Eng.}, University Press, {©, Printing, 1948. [The standard work on the topic]

Johan Meijer. A Successful Council of Union : A Theological Analysis of the Photian Synod of 879-880. Thessalonikē, Patriarchikon Idruma Paterikōn Meletōn, 1975. [Builds heavily on Dvornik’s “The Photian Schism” and should be read immediately afterward. Contains the decrees of Constantinople 879-80]

Council of Blachernae (1285)

Aristeides Papadakis. Crisis in Byzantium the Filioque Controversy in the Patriarchate of Gregory II of Cyprus (1283 – 1289). New York Fordham Univ. Pr, 1983. [History of the Council. The book contains the Tomos of 1285]

Council of Constantinople V – “Palamite” (1341 – 1351)

[see also “Essence-Energy Distinction”]

Russell, Norman. Gregory Palamas: The Hesychast Controversy and the Debate with Islam: Documents Relating to Gregory Palamas. S.L., Liverpool University Press, 2020. [Contains all the pertinent Tomoi of the Palamite Councils of 1341 to 1368 as well as the “Life of St. Gregory Palamas” written by Philotheos Kokkinos] 

False Council of Florence (1431-49)

Gill, Joseph. The Council of Florence. New York, NY Univ. Press, 2011.

Kappes, Christiaan. “‘A Latin Defense of Mark of Ephesus at the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438-1439).’” Greek Orthodox Theological Review 59 (2014), www.academia.edu/4912818/_A_Latin_Defense_of_Mark_of_Ephesus_at_the_Council_of_Ferrara_Florence_1438_1439_.

Kappes, Christiaan. “Orthodox Reception of Ps.-Pope Sylvester’s Canon: ‘the First See Is Judged by No Human Being’: From Photios to Mark of Ephesus.” Society of Law of Eastern Churches: 23rd Congress – Primacy and Synodality; Proof, http://www.academia.edu/32281818/Orthodox_Reception_of_Ps_Pope_Sylvesters_Canon_The_First_See_is_Judged_by_no_Human_Being_From_Photios_to_Mark_of_Ephesus. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

Kappes, Christiaan. “‘Mark of Ephesus, the Council of Florence, and the Roman Papacy.’” J. Chryssavgis (Editor), Primacy in the Church: The Office of Primacy and the Authority of Councils, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, http://www.academia.edu/15180881/_Mark_of_Ephesus_the_Council_of_Florence_and_the_Roman_Papacy_.

Ostroumov, Ivan N. The History of the Council of Florence: Transl. From the Russian by Basil Popoff. Boston, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1971.

Council of Jassy/Iasi (1642)

The orthodox confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church : Mogila, Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev, 1596-1646 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive [Originally adapted from a Catholic Catechism by the Orthodox Ukrainian St. Peter Mogila and then corrected by the Synod of Jassy. This was then endorsed by the Council of Jerusalem in 1672.  

Council of Jerusalem (1672)

Dositheos, Patriarch Of Jerusalem, et al. The Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem : Sometimes Called the Council of Bethlehem, Holden under Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1672. Charleston, S.C., Bibliolife, 2011. [Also found online here: The acts and decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem, sometimes called the Council of Bethlehem, holden under Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1672 : Orthodox Eastern Church. Synod of Jerusalem, 1672 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive If all you want is the Confession of Dositheus itself can actually be found here: The Confession of Dositheus (Eastern Orthodox) (crivoice.org)]

Essence/Energy Distinction [see “Councils – ‘Palamite’”]

Barnes, Michel R. The Power of God: δύναμις in Gregory of Nyssa’s Trinitarian Theology / the Power of God: [Dunamis] in Gregory of Nyssa’s Trinitarian Theology. Washington, D.C., Catholic University Of America Press, 2001.

Bradshaw, David. Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Palamas, Gregory, and John Meyendorff. The Triads. New York, Paulist Press, 1983.

Palamas, Gregory, et al. The One Hundred and Fifty Chapters. Toronto, Ont., Pontifical Institute Of Mediaeval Studies, 1988.

Palamas, Gregory, et al. Dialogue between an Orthodox and a Barlaamite. Binghamton, N.Y., Global Publications/Cemers, 1999.

Russell, Norman. Gregory Palamas: The Hesychast Controversy and the Debate with Islam: Documents Relating to Gregory Palamas. S.L., Liverpool University Press, 2020.

Filioque

Siecienski, Edward. The Filioque: History of a Doctrinal Controversy. Editorial: Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010.

Aristeides Papadakis. Crisis in Byzantium the Filioque Controversy in the Patriarchate of Gregory II of Cyprus (1283 – 1289). New York Fordham Univ. Pr, 1983. [History of the Council. The book contains the Tomos of 1285]

Forgeries

Davenport, E. H. “The False Decretals.”  Oxford, 1916

Demacopoulos, George. “The Invention of Peter,” University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013

Jasper, Detlev; Fuhrmann, Horst. “Papal Letters in the Early Middle Ages,” Catholic University Press, 2001

Also: see three articles on Florence by Fr. Christiaan Kappes as he touches on the influence of forgeries at Florence as well as how they were received in the East from the time of St. Photius the Great. 

History (of Byzantium)

George Philip Baker. Justinian: The Last Roman Emperor. New York, Cooper Square Press, 2002.

John Julius Norwich. A Short History of Byzantium. London, Penguin, 2013.

John Julius Norwich. Byzantium. New York, Knopf, 1998.

John Julius Norwich. Byzantium : The Apogee. New York, Knopf, 2011.

John Julius Norwich. Byzantium : The Decline and Fall. London, Folio Society, 2003.

Mango, Cyril. Byzantium. , 1980.

Treadgold, Warren T. A History of the Byzantine State and Society. Stanford, Calif., Stanford University Press, 2000.

History (of Doctrine)

Jaroslav Jan Pelikan. The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). Chicago Univ. Of Chicago Pr, 1971.

Jaroslav Jan Pelikan. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. 2 the Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700). Chicago, Ill. Univ. Of Chicago Press, 1988.

Jaroslav Pelikan. The Growth of Medieval Theology (600-1300). Chicago, University Of Chicago Press, 1978.

Jaroslav Pelikan. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 4 Reformation of Church and Dogma (1300-1700). University Of Chicago Press, 1984.

Kelly, J N D. Early Christian Doctrines. London, Bloomsbury, 2013.

History (from primary sources)

Eusebius, Of Caesarea Bishop Of Caesarea, et al. The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine. London, Penguin, 2004.

[The ecclesiastical histories of Socrates and Sozomon pick up where Eusebius left off and take one up into the mid fifth century. They can be found in the Schaff series above.]

Psellus, Michael, and E R A Sewter. Fourteen Byzantine Rulers : The Chronographia of Michael Psellus. London, England, Penguin Books, 2011.

Thorpe, Lewis, et al. Two Lives of Charlemagne. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1969.

Bishop, Gregory. Gregory of Tours : The History of the Franks. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England ; New York, N.Y., Penguin Books, 1974.

Introductions to Orthodox Christianity

Hierotheos Vlachos. Entering the Orthodox Church : A Contribution to the Pastoral Ministry for the Catechism and Baptism of Adults. Levadia, Greece, Birth Of The Theotokos Monastery, 2004. [Most anything by Metropolitan Hierotheos is worth being read. His focuses on salvation as healing to the divine image and the Church as the hospital preparing sinners for heaven]

Hierotheos Vlachos, and Effie Mavromichali. Orthodox Spirituality : A Brief Introduction. Levadia, Greece, Birth Of The Theotokos Monastery, 2008.

Hierotheos Vlachos. The Mind of the Orthodox Church. Levadia, Greece, Birth Of The Theotokos Monastery, 2000.

Kallistos Ware. The Orthodox Church. London, Penguin Books, Cop, 1997. [Standard introductory work, usually given in tandem with “The Orthodox Way” by the same author. The older the version you can get, the better]. 

Kallistos, Bishop Of Diokleia. The Orthodox Way. Crestwood, Ny, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1995. [See note above]

Pomazansky, Michael, and Seraphim Rose. Orthodox Dogmatic Theology : A Concise Exposition. Platina, Calif., Saint Herman Of Alaska Brotherhood, 2005.

Liturgy

Maximus, Confessor Saint, and Jonathan J Armstrong. On the Ecclesiastical Mystagogy. Yonkers, New York, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2019.

Nicolaus Cabasilas, et al. A Commentary on the Divine Liturgy. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Press, 2010.

St. Germanus I Patriarch Of Constantinople 773. St Germanus of Constantinople on the Divine Liturgy. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984.

Lives of Saints

Adamnan, Saint, and Richard Sharpe. Life of St Columba. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England; New York, Penguin Books, 1995.

The Age of Bede. Harmondsworth; New York, Penguin, 1983. [Has Bede’s “Life of Cuthbert,” “Lives of the Abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow,” and Eddius’s “Life of Wilfrid” as well as “The Voyage of St. Brendan.”]

Alexandria, et al. The Paradise or Garden of the Holy Fathers : Being Histories of the Anchorites, Recluses, Monks, Coenobites, and Ascetic Fathers of the Deserts of Egypt between A.D. CCL and A.D. CCCC Circiter. Blanco, Tex., New Sarov Press, 1994. [In two volumes]

Agnellus, Of Ravenna Abbot, et al. The Book of Pontiffs of the Church of Ravenna. Washington, D.C., Catholic University of America Press, 2004.

Bishop, Theodoret, and R M Price. A History of the Monks of Syria. Kalamazoo, Mich., Cistercian Publications, 2008.

Dawes, Elizabeth A S, and Norman Hepburn Baynes. Three Byzantine Saints: Contemporary Biographies of St. Daniel the Stylite, St. Theodore of Sykeon, and St. John the Almsgiver. Crestwood, N.Y, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996.

Edward Cletus Sellner. Wisdom of the Celtic Saints. Saint Paul, MN, Bog Walk Press, 2006.

Father Arseny (Otets Arsenii. Father Arseny, 1893-1973. Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001. [Life and stories of a clairvoyant saint who survived years the Soviet gulags written by those with him in the camp and who knew him after his release]

Keynes, Simon, and Johannes Asser. Alfred the Great Asser’s Life of Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources. London [U.A.] Penguin Books, 2004.

Markides, Kyriacos C. The Mountain of Silence : A Search for Orthodox Spirituality. New York, Image, 2002. [Not exactly a life of a saint but it includes many testimonies to the life of St. Paisios the New of Mt. Athos]

Moschus, John. The Spiritual Meadow. Piscataway, Nj, Gorgias Press, 2010.

Nicetas, De Paflagonia, et al. The Life of Patriarch Ignatius. Washington, D.C., Dumbarton Oaks Research Library And Collection, 2013. [a rabid adherent of St. Ignatius who could not accept that Sts. Ignatius and Photius reconciled]

Perekrestov, Peter, and Russkai︠a︡ Pravoslavnai︠a︡ T︠s︡erkovʹ Zagranit︠s︡eĭ. Man of God: Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco. Richfield Springs, New York, Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society, 1997.

Russell, Norman. Gregory Palamas: The Hesychast Controversy and the Debate with Islam: Documents Relating to Gregory Palamas. S.L., Liverpool University Press, 2020. [Contains all the pertinent Tomoi of the Palamite Councils of 1341 to 1368 as well as the “Life of St. Gregory Palamas” written by Philotheos Kokkinos] 

Russell, Norman, and Benedicta Ward. The Lives of the Desert Fathers : The Historia Monachorum in Aegypto. Kalamazoo, Cistercian Publications, 1980.

Tikhon, Bishop Of Egorʹesvsk, and Julian Henry Lowenfeld. Everyday Saints and Other Stories. Moscow, Pokrov Publications, 2012. [A fantastic book documenting the lives of living saints around us – regularly sold out in church bookstores]

Papal Primacy

Denny, Edward. Papalism: A Treatise on the Claims of the Papacy as Set Forth in the Encyclical Satis Cognitum. London: Rivingtons, 1912.

Dvornik, Francis. Byzantium and the Roman Primacy. New York, Fordham University Press, 1966.

Meyendorff, John. The Primacy of Peter. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1992.

Olivier Clément. You Are Peter: An Orthodox Theologian’s Reflection on the Exercise of Papal Primacy. New York, New City Press, 2003.

Schatz, Klaus. Papal Primacy: From Its Origins to the Present. Collegeville, Minn ., Liturgical Press, 1996.

Vinzenz Gasser, and James T O’connor. The Gift of Infallibility: The Official Relatio on Infallibility of Bishop Vincent Gasser at Vatican Council I. San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2008.

Photian Schism

Dvornik, Francis. Byzantine Missions among the Slavs: SS. Constantine-Cyril and Methodius. New Brunswick, N.J., Rutgers University Press, 1970. [Touches on the implications of the schism on the mission of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, both of whom had been sent by St. Photius]

Dvornik, Francis. The Photian Schism. Cambridge {Eng.}, University Press, {©, Printing, 1948. [The standard work on the topic]

Johan Meijer. A Successful Council of Union : A Theological Analysis of the Photian Synod of 879-880. Thessalonikē, Patriarchikon Idruma Paterikōn Meletōn, 1975. [Builds heavily on Dvornik’s “The Photian Schism” and should be read immediately afterward]

Prayer

We cannot stress enough that we are not your spiritual guides and if you need spiritual guidance, you are best to either speak with your priest or find a good monastic confessor to guide you. That being said, here are several introductory books on prayer written by those far more experienced in prayer than us.

Anonymous 19Th Century Russian Peasant. Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues on His Way. 2015.

Bloom, Anthony. Beginning to Pray. Cincinnati, Oh, St. Anthony Messenger, 2004.

Hierotheos Vlachos, and Effie Mavromichali. A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain : Discussion with a Hermit on the Jesus Prayer. Levadia, Greece, Birth Of The Theotokos Monastery, 2009.

Holy Trinity Monastery. UNABBREVIATED HOROLOGION or BOOK of the HOURS: Brown Cover. 1997. [Contains all of the traditional hours of prayer so you can do them at home. All of the supplemental material can easily be found on official archdiocese websites such as www.oca.org or www.goarch.org along with the daily readings and lives of the saints. 

Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life. Elam Publications, 2015.

Theophanes, et al. The Path of Prayer: Four Sermons on Prayer. Newbury, Mass., Praxis Institute Press, 1992. 

Theology

Vladimir Lossky. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. London, J Clarke, 2005.

Losskii, Vladimir N. Orthodox Theology: An Introduction. Crestwood, NY, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2002.

Theosis

Panayiotis Nellas. Deification in Christ: Orthodox Perspectives on the Nature of the Human Person. Crestwood, N.Y., St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1987.

MantzaridēsGeōrgios I. The Deification of Man: St. Gregory Palamas and the Orthodox Tradition. Crestwood, New York, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1984.

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