Writings of Peter Bouteneff

Being a believer has advantages that some non-believers are jealous of. It gives purpose, it alleviates the morbid fear of death. But we should be ready to give up all the advantages of a religious outlook if that outlook is based on a pipe dream, a fundamental untruth or error. The reason it is necessary to believe in God, the only reason which embraces all others, is that this is truth. This is reality, the decisive, fundamental reality, and life-giving truth.

Sweeter than Honey

Christianity is not merely an inspirer of feeling or of art, a balm against the fear of death. We would be petty and utilitarian, we would be fools, in fact, to believe it for those reasons alone, or just because it feels good. If it’s not true, if it doesn’t bring us into communion with the basis of life itself, let’s all save ourselves the trouble and respectfully look elsewhere. Let’s be quick to smash our idols.

Sweeter than Honey

If the word “dogma” is to be used credibly, it needs rescuing. The ideas behind the word need to be revived and explored: the ideas that there is such a thing as absolute truth about God and the world, that this truth can be discerned, that it can be an object of faith and love, that it is the root of creativity and freedom. That you might long for its sweetness. That you might thirst for it with all of your being.

Sweeter than Honey

Truth, faith, love, and knowledge are inextricably linked, because truth is relational; truth is personal. Personal - in that it is identified with a person, Jesus Christ.

Sweeter than Honey

Christianity can readily “make sense” to the detached inquiring mind, but this isn’t the most important thing about it. Because the way that we seek and engage with truth isn’t primarily through detached inquiry but through a living relationship of faith and love with the object we seek. Credo ut intelligam: I believe in order to know. I love in order to know. The Scriptures speak of loving the truth (2 Thess 2.10; Zech 8.19), because love and engagement are bound together with knowledge. In the Bible, to “know” someone is to love them intimately, even physically.

Sweeter than Honey

If there is a collective subconscious that points in the direction of a transcendent being, if there are teachings about avatars or incarnate divine beings, other “sons of God,” if there are other myths about creation and fall, other myths about cataclysmic floods, other stories about virgin births, all of these may be like strings that resonate, sometimes more, sometimes less, with one grounding note, whom we believe to be none other than Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, in whom all things hold together.

Sweeter than Honey

It doesn’t take long to find profound and joyous convergences in the thought, teaching, and mystical experiences of the world’s great religious traditions. Some people have attributed these convergences to a trait embedded in humanity—a collective subconscious that has evolved as a result of our basic “wiring.” But what if these convergences are all resonances of a single, actual truth? What if that truth is the person of Jesus Christ?

Sweeter than Honey


Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence

Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence

“This illuminating meditation on the pillars of Pärt’s music – word, silence, and bright sadness – gives voice to what many intuit in the music and is a game changer for Pärt scholarship. Unafraid to traverse the same boundaries of religion, spirituality, and popular culture as Pärt’s music, Bouteneff’s book is essential reading for those devoted to Pärt’s music and interested in the place of Orthodox Christianity in public life.”

    — JEFFERS ENGELHARDT , Amherst College

“A luminous engagement of music, philosophy, and belief.” 

    — LAURIE ANDERSON, Composer, musician, performance artist


“Many of us have written about Pärt, but one…

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Beginnings

Beginnings

Recently renewed debates concerning creation and evolution make contemporary Christians wonder how their forebears in the faith understood the Genesis creation narratives. Were the stories of the six days and of the garden read historically, or did they have some other function?

"I hope this remarkable study will be widely read and appreciated. From the start, the reader is obliged to grapple with questions about how a text is to be read when it can be demonstrated that layers of subsequent interpretation have had as much, if not more, influence than the text itself. And what more crucial text is there than Genesis 1-3, which has shaped Christian understanding of both creation and fall in ways that are now controversial, both within the churches and in the public domain? ...I…

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Beyond the East-West Divide

Beyond the East-West Divide

Co-Authored with Danish theologian Anna Marie Aagaard, this book explores issues in ecclesiology and ecumenism, with an emphasis on the theological and practical issues involved in Orthodox involvement in ecumenical institutions.

“By setting forth the Orthodox view with such candor, Bouteneff has identified the central issue facing the ecumenical movement today.” George Vandervelde, Calvin Theological Review

 

“Bouteneff’s contribution to this book is one of the clearest statements of Orthodox ecclesiology available today.”

Dn Stephen Hayes, International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church

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Foundations Series

Foundations Series

Peter Bouteneff conceived of and edits the Foundations Series for SVS Press. Each book represents a fresh, contemporary, reliable, and accessible introduction to themes in theology and ethics.

Volumes to date:

  • Augustine Casiday, Remember the Days of Old: Orthodox Thinking on the Patristic Heritage (2014).
  • Norman Russell, Fellow Workers with God: Orthodox Thinking on Theosis (2009).
  • Elizabeth Theokritoff, Living in God's Creation: Orthodox Perspectives on Ecology (2009).
  • Peter Bouteneff, Sweeter than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma and Truth (2006).
  • John…

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Sweeter Than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma And Truth

Sweeter Than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma And Truth

This book begins with a deeply thoughtful reflection on the nature of truth in the face of relativism, absolutism, and fanaticism showing Jesus Christ as the logic and love that undergirds and unites the universe. Part 2 is a journey through the landscape of Orthodox teaching, with a solid explanation of how it comes down to us today. Sweeter than Honey provides indispensable insight into Orthodox Christian thinking.

"It is a book that addresses important questions in a powerful way, with a courage to engage in the real world, rather than taking refuge in a twilight of the elves that often characterizes studies on Orthodox tradition.  

I hope this will have a wide reception.  Like most books that deal with the art of thinking – it  might stretch…

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Twenty-Four Lecture Audio Course

Twenty-Four Lecture Audio Course

This highly-rated set of lectures introduces the history, theology, and ethos of the Orthodox Church in an inviting and informative way. Available online at NowYouKnowMedia.com.

 

"These lectures are really outstanding and, in my view, should be universally recommended along with [Kallistos] Ware's two books to anyone interested in learning about Eastern Orthodoxy.  Your lectures are no doubt THE most accessible introduction to the Eastern Orthodox faith/tradition."

James B.

(Partner in a leading global law firm)
 

---Topic Titles:

  • Introduction

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Updated list of publications

Updated list of publications

Books, written and edited, online pieces, articles in journals, encyclopedia and dictionary entries, book chapters.

Books

  • Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence (Yonkers, NY: SVS Press, 2015).
  • Beginnings: Early Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008).
  • Sweeter than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma and Truth (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 2006).
  • Beyond the East-West Divide: The WCC and "The Orthodox Problem" (Geneva: WCC, 2001), with Anna Marie Aagaard.
  • (ed., with Dagmar Heller) Interpreting Together: Essays in Hermeneutics (Geneva: WCC, 2001).
  • (ed., with Alan Falconer) Episkopé and Episcopacy and the Quest for…

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