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.


Orthodox material is hard to come by, but two Orthodox distributors will send catalogues (gratis) of their Orthodox books, icons, CDs, calendars, etc.:

—St. Vladimir's Seminary Press (800-204-2665), which is connected with the New York Orthodox seminary of the same name.
—Light and Life (612-925-3888), a Minneapolis publisher.


The History and Holy Sacraments of Orthodox Christianity (Gotelecom, 1992), are three half-hour videos that introduce the history and beliefs of Greek Orthodoxy. Call 1-800-888-6835 to order.

The Web

The Orthodox are Internet savvy, and a number of sites are worth exploring. The place to begin is The Orthodox Christian Page in America ( From there you can access home pages of various Orthodox communions, as well as current news, links to icons (which you can download), classic readings, online magazines, and mail lists.

Christian History Back Issues

The Russian Millennium, looks at the Russian side of Orthodoxy; Heresy and Doctrine in the Early Church, details doctrinal foundations; Worship in the Early Church, examines liturgical background; and John Chrysostom, looks at one of Orthodoxy's greatest saints.