How To Learn More About Orthodoxy

edited July 2014 in Faith Issues
I can see that there are many great theologians and knowledgeable people in this forum. My question to you guys is how can I learn more about what real orthodoxy is. If you saw the last discussion I started, which I'm sure you didn't lol you'll have seen that I've been going back and reading these threads which are very informative. I came to the one where Father Peter discussed protestantism vs orthodoxy( What I got out of it was that I really need to know what real orthodoxy is because that's what I claim I am(Orthodox) and to be able to distinguish between orthodoxy and heresies (For example, someone preaching more about protestantism in the church and I would probably believe it). I appreciate all your efforts and thank you in advance but please keep in mind I am extremely ignorant in these things and very simple minded so I need/want to start from the beginning so as to get a full and complete understanding.

Also, I know I ask for so much but I would really appreciate it if you guys could give specific "plans" like which book or something to start with and where to go from there not like a general answer "read the bible" "ask you FoC"

EDIT: I have tried this before, without any real guidance. I tried studying the liturgy and enjoyed it and felt like I was benefitting but I felt like there was no end, and that much that I was reading/learning was really just meditations on it and not actual history or explanations behind the rites. I tried a few other things to no real success so I hope the Holy Spirit leads me in the right direction through you guys.     


  • Hello EsmoEpchois!

    What a blessing it is to hear that you want to study the Orthodox Faith in more depth; I am however confused about your request...

    It seems my dear friend, that you want to learn about Orthodoxy without embracing two of the most important sources of information on Orthodox; the Holy Scriptures, and our Father of Confession.

    Beloved, Orthodoxy is not a philosophy or an ideology that we can just study, it is a journey towards union with the living God! As such, it is not enough to think or believe correctly (the meaning of Orthodoxy), but we must also live & act correctly (Orthopraxy). Part of this is submission to the hierarchy of the Church, clinging to the example of those who have been appointed teachers.

    Our Fathers teach us that our spiritual life unfolds in stages just like our natural life. There is a season for milk, and a season for meat. It is for our spiritual father to help us discern where we are and provide us the good nutrition in due season.

    However this wasn't the only concern you had; your other concern was of even greater importance... the risk that you might not even recognize heresy. This too however is answered not by accumulating facts, but by having a deep spiritual practice. 

    Truly the best advice I can  offer you my beloved brother is to honestly share your concerns with your Father of Confession and ask him to guide your spiritual practice in a way that will benefit you and resolve these issues. Spend time in prayer and remember that our end goal is a virtuous life. From purity flows everything else, and that's struggle enough for anyone!

    When we live life in conversation with God (for this is what the Fathers teach us prayer really is), it's much harder for the seeds of heresy to disturb us, since our heart is a garden full of virtue; there's no room for weeds to really take root.

    With that said, I'll offer you some books I found of value in my own spiritual life. Check the next reply as this message gets too long with the links included.

    May God be with you on your journey =c)

  • When reading links from, please remember that these are old translations from the Anglican Church. At times the English may be difficult, and the Introduction/Preface & footnotes don't necessarily reflect Orthodox theology. All in all though, it's still a great resource.

    From our Coptic Orthodox Fathers

    Father Tadros Malaty's Commentary on the Bible (many volumes & all over the place, just Google it)

    HH Pope Shenouda III's works:
    Comparative Theology (an analysis of Protestant teachings in light of Orthodoxy)

    The Nature of Christ (this is the work that caused me to join the Coptic Orthodox Church)

    From the Fathers of Antiquity:
    History of the Church

    Severus of Al'Ashmunein (=Hermopolis), History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic church of Alexandria.  Preface to the online edition.

    NPNF2-01. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

    NPNF2-02. Socrates and Sozomenus Ecclesiastical Histories - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

    General Teaching
    Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

    On the Passover - Melito of Sardis - Kerux 4:1 (May 1989)

    Look for St. Clement of Alexandria's "The Instructor"
    ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire) - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

    On the Mysteries
    Look for St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures:

    NPNF2-07. Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

    Basil the Great, Sermon 13: In Sanctum Baptismum (1843) pp.225-241.

    And finally a work on prayer from the Scholar Origen:

    Origen, On Prayer (Unknown date). Translation.
  • edited July 2014
  • @Blessedtobeawitness,

    Thank you so much for all your advice, I found it all extremely beneficial. What I meant by "don't just suggest general suggestions like 'read the bible' 'ask your father of confession'" was that I want something supplementary to that, which you have given through your links provided for which I am extremely grateful. I said this because to me, the bible is somewhat how you interpret it. For example you can take it literally and the only book to use such as Protestants or like the orthodox, having other things to look at such as the writings of the fathers and the lives of the saints. My former FoC recommended I let the Holy Spirit guide me, which is obviously a must and I try to as much as I can, with my feeble mind. But I just want to make sure that while I'm reading and understanding, that I do so in the orthodox concept. Hopefully that made sense.

    As for my father of confession, through prayer and God's timing, I am currently in search for a new one but that's an issue all on its own which I wish to not bring up at the moment.


    Thanks for the link! You remind me of Red from The Shawshank Redemption, the go to guy for everything lol links, books, QUOTES! Thanks again and God bless you both.
  • also you know the list of church fathers at the beginning of the liturgy when the priest prays the general absolution?
    ('may your servants...' or 'abeedak...')
    this is also the 'safe' reading list, so you can read anything by saint john chrysostom, saint cyril the great (abba kirollos 1st) etc. and it will be good orthodox theology.
    this helped me lots, when i couldn't go to orthodox church every week, or when i went i had to rush home afterwards so didn't have time to ask my big list of questions.
    but, i agree, i got the most help from actually being with an orthodox community and living like them (on the days after liturgy when i did not have to rush home)

    but read the Bible first, at least the new testament, or you won't know what they are talking about.
    the orthodox study Bible is the best for a good modern english translation with good study notes.
    may God guide u

  • @Mabsoota - That's a really great insight! Thanks for sharing :).

    Unfortunately with the exception of St. Basil & St. John Chrysostom, most of our fathers have been neglected in translation. It's hard to find anything from St. Severus or St. Dioscorus. Even St. Cyril of Alexandria only has a handful of works that made it into English translation. If you know of resources, do tell!

    @EsmoEpchois - The advice you received is solid food, though sometimes difficult to truly embrace.The same Spirit that guided the Fathers is in you and if you embrace their example, you will receive the grace to live as they did. That's the goal we're all struggling towards.

    Regarding the Bible, you're measuring wisely; if we don't interpret it correctly we may fall into heresy, which is the error of adopting our own opinions instead of adhering to the revelation received through the Apostles and preserved in the Church. Father Tadros Malaty's Commentary is quite helpful and loaded with Patristic Citations from Father's on Mabsoota's "safe list." It might make a nice place to start while you wait on God's will to be revealed to you regarding your spiritual father.

    May God be with you on your search for a new Father of Confession. Please remember me in your prayers.
  • if you finish reading the works of saint john chrysostom, let me know and i will
    1. recommend something else to read
    2. sit at your feet in wonder, asking how you found time to finish reading every one of his sermons

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