This book is the first exploration of the remarkable odyssey of Thomas Aquinas in the Orthodox Christian world, from the Byzantine to the modern era. Aquinas was received with astonishing enthusiasm across the Byzantine theological spectrum. By contrast, modern Orthodox readings of Aquinas have been resoundingly negative, routinely presenting Aquinas as the archetype of as a specifically Western form of theology against which the Orthodox East must set its face. Basing itself primarily on a close study of the Byzantine reception of Thomas, this study rejects such hackneyed dichotomies, arguing instead for a properly catholic or universal construal of Orthodoxy - one in which Thomas might once again find a place. In its probing of the East-West dichotomy, this book questions the widespread juxtaposition of Gregory Palamas and Thomas Aquinas as archetypes of opposing Greek and Latin theological traditions. The long period between the Fall of Constantinople and the Russian Revolution, conventionally written off as an era of sterility and malformation for Orthodox theology, is also viewed with a fresh perspective. Study of the reception of Thomas in this period reveals a theological sophistication and a generosity of vision that is rarely accounted for. In short, this is a book which radically re-thinks the history of Orthodox theology through the prism of the fascinating and largely untold story of Orthodox engagement with Aquinas.
Marcus Plested has taught, lectured, and published widely in the field of Orthodox Christian studies. His first book was The Macarian Legacy: The Place of Macarius-Symeon in the Eastern Christian Tradition (OUP 2004).
[The book] has tremendous implications for ecumenical relations between ourselves and the Eastern Orthodox...Well written and even-handed. --The Catholic Response
"The story the author tells is fascinating and holds many surprises for theologians of both Eastern and Western traditions." --First Things
"His book is both a revealing historical study of Orthodox attitudes to Aquinas and the West, and a significant contribution to ecumenical dialogue between Orthodox East and Latin West, which, despite Kipling, have met in the past and could do so again to their mutual profit." --Theology
"An important theological contribution, a clarion call for the Orthodox Church to be herself rather than to be defined as merely the opposite of all things Western." --Theological Studies
"Brilliant." --New Blackfriars
"A significant and much needed study." --The Journal of Theological Studies
"[A] very fine book." --Times Literary Supplement
"Marcus Plested has written a very important book... [A] finely researched and winsomely written survey... Orthodox Readings of Aquinas
is a critically important book for Orthodox and Catholics alike." --Nova et Vetera
"...[T]his work is the first of its kind: a historical and theological introduction to the relation between Thomism and many of the major theologians in eastern Orthodoxy since the fourteenth century... Marcus Plested's pioneering book could open many doors for new research on the Byzantine theological tradition. The young English scholar has identified a nearly forgotten gold mine of doctrine, from which he has already brought forth much treasure." --Modern Theology
"...[A]n extraordinarily rich articulation and defense of Orthodox scholasticism... Plested's profoundly erudite study charts an exciting and compelling course." --Matthew Levering, Professor of Theology, University of Dayton
"M. Plested's Orthodox Readings on Aquinas
[...] deserves to take the succession of Lossky's book [Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church
] as setting a new paradigm regarding the identity and inner coherence of the Orthodox tradition." --Antoine Levy in Nicolaus: Revisita di Teologia ecumenico-patristica