Friday, 14 December 2012

John Meyendorff "Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective" review.

I have always been a fan of Meyendorff's writing style. As a historian, he will always use comparison in his explanations, which is a great benefit for converts in the west such as myself. In his historical writings, he deals constantly with the comparison of East and West. This book on the Orthodox view of marriage continues to fit into this tradition.

The book is split into various sections covering various aspects of church history, practice, doctrinal development and aspects of married life. This is followed by an appendix containing quotes from scripture, the fathers and the Canons.

In his usual pragmatic style, Meyendorff does not make sweeping judgements on 'how to be a good Orthodox husband/wife' but simply explains the Church's approach to various issues which couples will encounter such as preparation for marriage, mixed relationships and family planning. Each of these areas are again supported with historical referencing and comparison of views, to help the reader understand things in context.
Another interesting detail on this book is that it covers many aspects of intimacy, such as the use of birth control, family planning and abortion, drawing some stark comparisons to the Roman views on these matters. Meyendorff does not skirt around these issues or tiptoe the differences but is able to explain the viewof the Orthodox Church in a way which is both accessible and easily understandable for any curious Orthodox Christian. 

The writing style of this book is also very fluid, with only 74 pages of explanation before you reach the vast appendix. The book can easily be read in a matter of hours, making it a useful short piece to read when travelling or as a quick read when you have a bit of free time.

Altogether, I would recommend it to any young Orthodox considering marriage or beginning. Serious relationship. Its easy reading style and depth of historical referencing make it easy to read. For the more Theologically minded it may seems light but is still worth the time.

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