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The Church of the Holy Spirit

Nicholas Afanasiev

Publication Year: 2007

The Church of the Holy Spirit, written by Russian priest and scholar Nicholas Afanasiev (1893–1966), is one of the most important works of twentieth-century Orthodox theology. Afanasiev was a member of the “Paris School” of émigré intellectuals who gathered in Paris after the Russian revolution, where he became a member of the faculty of St. Sergius Orthodox Seminary. The Church of the Holy Spirit, which offers a rediscovery of the eucharistic and communal nature of the church in the first several centuries, was written over a number of years beginning in the 1940s and continuously revised until its posthumous publication in French in 1971. Vitaly Permiakov's lucid translation and Michael Plekon's careful editing and substantive introduction make this important work available for the first time to an English-speaking audience.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Copyright, Frontispiece

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pp. vii-viii

What is the Church of God? We can craft any number of ingenious answers to this question and all of them will be useless unless we give proper weight to what it means to be the Church of God — to be the community assembled by divine initiative and divine love before all else....

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Introduction: The Church of the Holy Spirit— Nicholas Afanasiev’s Vision of the Eucharist and the Church

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pp. ix-xx

Memories and memoirs can be most revealing as well as obscuring. The recently published selections from Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s journals attest to this.2 The quotation above, however, comes from one of the typically succinct obituaries Fr. Schmemann...

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Author’s Foreword

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pp. 1-8

The expression Ecclesia Spiritus Sancti is found in Tertullian. Trying to reclaim from bishops, possibly from Callistus of Rome in particular, the power “to bind and to loose,” Tertullian argued that this power belonged to the “Church of the Spirit,” rather than to the “church of the psychics.” It seemed to him that the...

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1. The Royal Priesthood

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pp. 9-21

In the New Testament, those who became this race and nation (genos eklekton, ethnos hagion) which the Lord has chosen and formed for himself were Christians who before were not at all a nation but who in the Church became God’s people (laos Theou). The Church is God’s...

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2. The Ordination of Laics

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pp. 23-31

In the Old Testament, physical birth determined whether someone belonged to the chosen people. Only the children of Abraham were heirs to God’s promise. Despite the fact that proselytism was especially strong by the time of Christ’s coming — “You traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte...

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3. The Ministry of Laics

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pp. 33-79

The Eucharist is the leitourgia celebrated by God’s people gathered in the temple of Christ’s body. Therefore only one who is ordained for the “high calling” of being a member of God’s people can participate in the Eucharist. The eucharistic assembly began with the reading of the Scriptures and the homily by the presider, followed...

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4. The Work of Ministry

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pp. 81-132

Life in the Church, to which every one of the faithful is called, is unceasing ministry through the Church to God and to the Church. “Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served (diakonêsthênai) but to serve (diakonêsai), and to give his life...

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5. “Those Who Preside in the Lord”

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pp. 133-168

Theologians have firmly adhered to the view that primitive Christianity, at least outside Palestine, existed in a state of charismatic anarchy. The end of charismatic anarchy signified the end of a charismatic period and the beginning of firm and definitive organization of church life. This external organization emerges on the basis of episcopal authority that did not exist during the...

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6. “The One Who Offers Thanksgiving”

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pp. 169-215

This vision of St. John the Theologian [in the Book of Revelation] brings to us the image of a eucharistic assembly.1 From the very beginning at the eucharistic assembly a certain order was established in which the participants were placed in accordance with their status in the church. The witness to this is the letter...

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7. The Bishop

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pp. 217-253

Nihil innovetur nisi quod traditum est.1 This saying of Pope Stephen contains the basic rule of church life. Nothing new should be introduced; everything should rest on the tradition of the church. If in the beginning of the second century in the letters of Ignatius we find bishops in the local churches,...

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8. The Power of Love

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pp. 256-275

The Church’s thousand-year history since its first millennium has significantly modified its life, creating forms radically different from those of the primitive era, establishing ecclesial ideas which no longer contain its ancient teaching. In reality it is now quite difficult for us to understand the first pages of the...


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pp. 277-313


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pp. 315-327

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780268074678
E-ISBN-10: 0268074674
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268020309
Print-ISBN-10: 0268020302

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: Image removed; no digital rights.
Publication Year: 2007