No better overview of Orthodoxy can be had than Timothy Ware's The Orthodox Church (Penguin, 1993) and his The Orthodox Way (St. Vladimir's, 1979, 1996). We've also found helpful Ernst Benz's The Eastern Orthodox Church: Its Thought and Life (Doubleday, 1963).

Robert Payne's The Holy Fire: The Story of the Early Centuries of the Christian Church in the Near East (St. Vladimir's, 1957, 1996) presents ten fast-paced, engaging narratives on the lives of key Eastern Fathers.

To get a better understanding of the Great Schism, see Steven Runciman's The Eastern Schism: A Study of the Papacy and the Eastern Churches During the XIth and XIIth Centuries (Oxford, 1955), which is more readable than the title suggests.

A thorough yet accessible examination of Orthodox doctrine can be found in Jaroslav Pelikan's The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700), Volume 2 of his magisterial The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine (University of Chicago, 1974). Daniel Clendenin's Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective (Baker, 1994) looks at the tradition with Protestant eyes.

The Jesus Prayer, by a monk of the Eastern Church (St. Vladimir's, 1987), introduces readers to a unique contribution of Eastern Orthodoxy to Christian spirituality.

For those curious about icons, Michael Quenot's The Icon: Window on the Kingdom (St. Vladimir's, 1991) is a splendid introduction. Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky's The Meaning of Icons (St. Vladimir's, 1989), revised edition, has large color plates and detailed explanations of icons.

In the world of fiction, Feodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov contains sketches of Russian Orthodox monasticism and spirituality, especially in the character of Zossima the elder. ...

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