29 October 2011

My 15 Favorite Spiritual Books That I Own and Read

Tonight I was rearranging my books, putting my favorites and most reread books together in a special place. They numbered 15 and I thought this list would make for a great blog post with links to buy them for yourselves. If you do not have these books, I highly recommend you get them all and read them then reread them as quickly as possible!
  1. The Septuagint with Apocrypha (Greek and English) by Sir Lancelot Brenton: This edition of The Septuagint with Apocrypha (the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and the apocryphal books of the same linguistic origin) gives the complete Greek text along with a parallel English translation by Brenton.
  2. The Orthodox Psalter (The Psalterion According to the Seventy) by Holy Apostles Convent: With so many Psalters available to the English reader, why select this one? The ecclesiastical English is most faithful to the original Greek, and diligently compared with the Psalterion of the Church of Greece, published by Apostolike Diakonia. This brand-new translation echoes the rhythms of the original Greek, which was faithful to the Hebrew idiom. The full-sized version with Commentary, reflecting the Orthodox perspective and interpretation of the spiritual insights of the holy Fathers from the East and West, promises to be an enriched reading experience that resonates with understanding of God’s word through the Psalmist David and others. Now you can read the Psalter and find answers to commonly asked textual and theological queries. This volume can help bring about a deeper relationship with God and reinforced faith in the Christ. This is a one-of-a-kind Psalter which borrows from the whole spectrum of patristic authority for a dependable and valuable resource, not only for Church readings, but also for devotional reading, Bible study, sermon preparation, and teaching. Therefore, come and explore the sacred writings with the champion holy Fathers of Orthodoxy so as to attain a better understanding of the wide range of prophetical, allegorical, mystical, and moralizing explanations of the verses. Even for those who do not know Greek or Hebrew, exegetical material found within this book gives critical analysis of key words, that is not overly technical, for both beginners and scholars alike.
  3. The Orthodox New Testament Volume 1: The Holy Gospels (Evangelistarion) by Holy Apostles Convent: With so many English New Testaments on the market, which version is most faithful to the original Greek? How do you choose one that reflects Orthodox perspective and theological content? Our Orthodox monasteries, Holy Apostles Convent and Dormition Skete, labored seven years, with a committee of contributors, to present this fully illustrated Orthodox translation, which has been diligently compared against the original Greek text, the authorized version (1912) of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the King James Version. There was no compromise of accuracy and reliability in this brand-new translation which echoes the rhythms and idioms of the original Greek. This promises to be an enriched reading experience that gives you an in-depth understanding of God’s word, answering commonly asked textual and theological queries for vital and penetrating insights into God’s word.
  4. The Orthodox New Testament Volume 2: Acts, Epistles, and Revelation (Praxapostolos) by Holy Apostles Convent: We have brought together a trustworthy and one-of-a-kind patristic commentary which draws from the whole spectrum of the authority of the Church Fathers for a rich, dependable, invaluable resource for devotional reading, Bible study, sermon preparation, and teaching. Explore the Scriptures with the champions of Orthodoxy with hundreds of succinct, reliable, and inspiring commentaries that elaborate on difficult passages, thereby providing a clearer understanding. Gain a greater understanding of the shades of meaning in the original language with word studies stressing meaningful nuances in the Greek, but often lost in other translations. Even for those who do not know Greek, exegetical material gives critical analysis of key words, that is not overly technical, for both beginners and scholars alike.
  5. Christ the Eternal TAO by Hieromonk Damascene of Platina & Lao Tzu: Not until now has the ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu been presented alongside the otherworldly revelation of Jesus Christ in a way that encompasses the full significance of both. Christ the Eternal Tao presents the Tao Teh Ching as a foreshadowing of what would be revealed by Christ, and Lao Tzu himself as a Far-Eastern prophet of Christ the incarnate God. Through heretofore unpublished translations and teachings of Gi-ming Shien -- perhaps the greatest Chinese philosopher to have ever come to the West -- this book uncovers the esoteric core of the Tao Teh Ching. Then, through the transmission of mystics of the ancient Christian East, Lao Tzu's teaching is brought into a new dimension, exploding with new meanings. Christ, in turn, is seen in a unique light, His pure image shining in the clarity of Lao Tzu's intuitive vision.With its practical, time-tested advice on how to unite oneself with the incarnate Tao and acquire uncreated Teh, this is both a philosophical source-book and a spiritual manual, touching the heart and leading one to profound inward transformation. It is a long-awaited Answer to those who, having turned away from modern Western "churchianity," are drawn to the freshness, directness and simplicity of Lao Tzu, and at the same time are strangely, inexplicably drawn back to the all-compelling reality of Jesus Christ.
  6. Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky: A systematic exposition of the Faith, long a standard in Russian-speaking seminary classes. Fr. Seraphim Rose's translation (and introduction) make the work both accessible and appealing to English-speaking Orthodox. The work is neither technical nor pedantic, and is addressed not to "professional theologians", but rather to pastors, and indeed to all Orthodox Christians. Extensive additional substantive footnotes by the current editors enhance the value of the work.
  7. Genesis, Creation and Early Man by Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina: Amidst the creation/evolution debate that is now raging, with evidence being offered for both sides, few have made use of what Fr. Seraphim Rose called "the missing evidence": the teaching of the ancient Orthodox Holy Fathers on the events of creation, the first-created world, the natures of created things, and the original nature of man. Now for the first time in the English language, this teaching has been gathered together and set forth in a thorough, detailed, and above all honest manner. Perhaps more than anyone else in our times, Fr. Seraphim Rose searched, studied, prayed and suffered to understand how the ancients noetically apprehended the creation in the light of the God-inspired book of Genesis. Having acquired their mind, he has presented to the modern world the harmonious Patristic vision of the cosmos. A vital answer to the contemporary "crisis of meaning," this book sheds startling new light on the mysteries of our origin. The Divine vision of the ancient Fathers opens up unforeseen dimensions of the creation: deeper levels of reality that cannot be reached through rational or scientific means.
  8. The Soul After Death by Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina: Fr. Seraphim presents one of the basic traditions of Orthodox teaching on the "afterlife" (concerning which Holy Scripture is remarkably silent, and Orthodoxy maintains an open tradition), and in its light examines many of the contemporary and occult accounts of after-death experiences, popularized by so many writers of such varying degrees of responsibility -- or lack thereof.
  9. Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Hieromonk Serpahim of Platina: Having passed already through six printings and two editions, this volume has established itself as a classic primer of the Orthodox viewpoint concerning the cults and occult of the "New Age". Much as these things change from year to year, in essence they change scarcely at all -- the occultists of our century are guided by the same demonic forces known to the Fathers of the desert nearly two millennia ago. Fr. Seraphim's astute analysis is a valuable weapon in our spiritual armory.
  10. The Apocalypse: In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity by Archbishop Averky Taushev: Translated and with an introduction by Fr. Seraphim of Platina of blessed memory, this detailed commentary on the Book of Revelation (more accurately, the Apocalypse) by one of the spiritual giants of our age is perhaps the only reliable guide readily available in English to an Orthodox understanding of its complexities. In reading both the commentary and the book, it is wise to remember that it required seven centuries for the Church to reach oneness of mind that this book was indeed to be regarded as part of Holy Scripture.
  11. The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation by Saint Theophan the Recluse: A classic textbook of the spiritual life, from a true Church Father of not so far past Russia. The translation was one of the last works of Fr. Seraphim (Rose), of blessed memory, here offered in its entirety for the first time in English.
  12. The Spiritual Life: And How to Be Attuned to It by Saint Theophan the Recluse: This series of eighty letters to a young woman, touching upon an endless variety of matters of concern in the spiritual life, is eminently practical and down to earth. Bishop Theophan, withdrawn from the world as he was, nevertheless was capable of communicating effectively with those who remain very much in the world.
  13. A Spiritual Psalter (Reflections on God in the Manner of the Psalms of David) by Saint Ephraim the Syrian: A collection of hymns, compiled from the writings of St. Ephraim by Bishop Theophan the Recluse. This book, which long constituted one of the favorite sources of reading for monastics in prerevolutianary Russia, has become a best-seller. Second edition, printed in red & black on high quality paper, gilded edges, ribbon, gold-stamped flexible case-binding. A beautiful book.
  14. The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Climacus: How do we get from here (the world) to there (the Kingdom)? Not by magic, but rather by hard work (possible only through the grace given by God!). St. John addresses the path, the ladder by which we may climb. The only problem is that most of us fall off at about the first or second rung... and must get back on and try again. Traditionally read in monasteries during Lent, and equally well-suited for all of us.
  15. My Life in Christ by Saint John of Kronstadt: Certainly one of the great spiritual classics. The fruit of years of spiritual struggle and pastoral ministry amongst the poor and downtrodden of a harbor town, St. John's diary speaks eloquently of every dimension of the spiritual life.
A wide array of authors in this mix with Greeks, Arabs, Russians, Serbians, British, Asians, and Americans; including both still-living and recently deceased clergymen of blessed memory, to modern and ancient saints. Obviously there are no books in my library by those of the Parisian School of Modernism and Ecumenism such as Protopresbyter John Meyendorff, Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, Metropolitan Bishop Anthony Bloom of Sourozh, Protopresbyer Alexander Schmemann, or deposed deacon Lev Puhalo, who tend to water down the faith with questioning and Western scholasticism rather than understanding and believing then explaining the foundations of the Church Fathers built on the Rock of Christ.



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