Written with personal warmth and great erudition, Encountering the Mystery illuminates the rich culture and soul of Orthodox Christianity. Bartholomew traces the roots of Orthodox Christianity to its founding two thousand years ago, explores its spirituality and doctrine, and explains its liturgy and art. More especially, in a unique and unprecedented way, he relates Orthodox Christianity to contemporary issues, such as freedom and human rights, social justice and globalization, as well as nationalism and war.
With a recent rebirth of Orthodox Christian churches (particularly in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe), there has been great interest in understanding this important branch of Christianity with its close ties to the traditions of the early Church. As USA Today recently reported, Orthodox Christian churches throughout the country are drawing converts attracted by the beauty of its liturgy and inspired by its enduring theology. But for the general seeker, whatever their background, Encountering the Mystery is a rich spiritual source that draws upon the wisdom of millennia.
The introduction examines codex Lesbiacus Leimonos 11 and its importance from a liturgical, hymnographical, and palaeographical perspective. It is divided into four chapters. The first presents the liturgical environment of the period from the ninth century, when most of the texts edited were composed, to the eleventh, when the production of the codex could be placed, and the liturgical books used in the period, the structure of the akolouthiai and the festal calendar of the Byzantine church. The second chapter deals with the content of the texts edited. Chapter Three presents briefly the life and the hymnographical work of the authors of the texts. The last chapter of the introduction is devoted to the manuscript tradition of the texts.
By emphasizing the ways in which this rhetoric of apostolic privilege was employed, extended, transformed, or resisted between the reigns of Leo the Great and Gregory the Great, Demacopoulos offers an alternate account of papal history that challenges the dominant narrative of an inevitable and unbroken rise in papal power from late antiquity through the Middle Ages. He unpacks escalating claims to ecclesiastical authority, demonstrating how this rhetoric, which almost always invokes a link to St. Peter, does not necessarily represent actual power or prestige but instead reflects moments of papal anxiety and weakness. Through its nuanced examination of an array of episcopal activity—diplomatic, pastoral, political, and administrative—The Invention of Peter offers a new perspective on the emergence of papal authority and illuminates the influence that Petrine discourse exerted on the survival and exceptional status of the Bishop of Rome.