16 April 2009

'Christ Is All in All'—Protopresbyter Nicholas Loudovikos

I have made one previous reference on this blog to the modern Greek theologian, Protopresbyter Nicholas Loudovikos, a very warm and brilliant man whom I had the tremendous blessing to meet and speak with at some length a couple of years ago. I shall always cherish the memory of walking with him through a small park near the ecclesiastical school where he teaches in Thessaloniki, as he told me about his extraordinary experiences with Elder Porphyrios and urged me to continue my theological studies. As none of Fr Loudovikos’s work has, to my knowledge, yet been published in English (with, as we shall see, one slight exception), I thought it worth giving him a brief introduction to readers of Logismoi.

As well as being a spiritual son of Elder Porphyrios, Fr Loudovikos was also a student of Fr John Romanides and of Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon. Here is my translation of the brief bio on this page, where one can also find three of Fr Loudovikos’s articles in Greek:

Protopresbyter Nicholas Loudovikos was born in Volos in 1959. He studied psychology, pedagogy, theology, and philosophy in Athens, Thessaloniki, Paris (Sorbonne [Paris IV] and the Institut Catholique de Paris), and at Cambridge. He is a doctor of theology of the University of Thessaloniki (1990). He worked at the research centre for Early Christianity, Tyndale House, Cambridge, and taught or gave seminars at the Centre for Advanced Religious & Theological Studies (C.A.R.T.S.) at the Theology School of the University of Cambridge, at the University of Durham, also giving lectures at other universities or research centres.

Today he is Professor of Dogmatics and Philosophy at the Higher Ecclesiastical School of Thessaloniki, a scientific associate—writer at the postgraduate theology program of the Open Greek University and part-time lecturer at the Orthodox Institute of the University of Cambridge.

When I met Fr Loudovikos back in 2007, after much harassment he gave me copies of three of his books:

1) Θεολογική Ηστορία της Αρχαίας Ελληνικής Φιλοσοφίας, Βιβλίο Πρώτο. Οι Προσωκρατικοί—ο Σωκράτης—ο Πλάτων [A Theological History of Ancient Greek Philosophy, Book One: The Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato] (Thessaloniki: Pournaras, 2003).

2) Ορθοδοξία και Εκσυγχρονισμός. Βυζαντινή Εξατομίκευση, Κράτος και Ιστορία, στην προοπτική του ευρωπαϊκού μέλλοντος [Orthodoxy and Modernisation: Byzantine Individualisation, Empire, and History, in the outlook of the European future] (Athens: Armos, 2006).

3) Η Αποφατική Εκκλησιολογία του Ομοουσίου—Η αρχέγονη Εκκλησία σύμερα [The Apophatic Ecclesiology of the One Essence: The Early Church Today] (Athens: Armos, 2002).

If I remember correctly, an English translation of another book, Η Ευχαριστιακή Οντολογία (Athens: Domos, 1992), is in the works, but none of the above titles have been rendered into our Anglo-Saxon tongue as of yet. Now, if I had the time just now, I would translate the synopsis from the back cover of the first book and the titles of a few of the essays collected in the second (just to give a hint of its quite varied contents, it contains essays on Kierkegaard, ecclesiology, the nature of the soul, the Byzantine empire, Feuerbach, the poet Kavafy, and Photios Kontoglou). But I’m afraid that shall have to wait.

On the other hand, as I mentioned, there is a slight exception to my statement that Fr Loudovikos’s work has not been translated into English yet. The third chapter of Part I (pp. 68-93) of the last book, Η Αποφατική Εκκλησιολογία του Ομοουσίου, has already been Englished (though not without mistakes) by Fr Deacon Chrysostom Nassis and included as an appendix to that work (pp. 359-84). Obviously, this saves me some time, but even still, it’s a long chapter and I don’t want to make the necessary sacrifice of sleep to transcribe all, or even much of it for this post. I’ll give you the last paragraph as a taste of what Fr Loudovikos has to offer. Fortuitously, this paragraph focuses on the Eucharist, making it rather aproppriate for Holy Thursday:

Thus, we learn in the Divine Eucharist the mode of the fulfillment of our charismata. Moreover, the Divine Eucharist is that which sustains but also judges this fulfillment as a manifestation of Christ in each charisma and in their communion. Naturally, we speak here of the Eucharist as the ontological pre-modeling of the eschatological coming of Christ, which vivifies and transforms but also judges. This is why eucharistic participation is primarily an ascetic action, an action of a crucified prohairesis (disposition), an action marked by pain in searching out the grace of the consubstantial conjoining of all beings in the image of the Trinitarian consubstantiality, precisely through the ecclesiastical charismata and hierarchies. Thus, prohairesis (disposition) and sacraments, hierarchical structures and charismata, ascetic struggles and institutions confess together that ‘Christ is all in all’. (p. 384)

Finally, for those who know Modern Greek, in addition to the site I linked to above, there are mp3s, a video, and an article of Fr Loudovikos’s here.

Addendum: Please see this post for an update on Fr Loudovikos's work in English.


Taylor said...

Hi Aaron, I've been digging through your archives to fortify my knowledge of modern Orthodox theology. If you get a chance to read this, I'm sure you'll be happy to know that there is another article by Fr. Loudovikos in English after the one you mentioned - the bibliographic info is "Ontology Celebrated: Remarks of an Orthodox on Radical Orthodoxy," Adrian Pabst and Christoph Schneider, eds., Encounter Between Eastern Orthodoxy and Radical Orthodoxy (Ashgate, 2008).

aaronandbrighid said...

Taylor> Sorry about the delay getting back to you--it's been a busy week and a half!

I wouldn't have thought my archives would be the best place to fortify one's knowledge of modern Orthodox theology, but I suppose there are a few things here and there. I certainly am happy to learn of an article in English by Fr Loudovikos, and on radical orthodoxy no less. I'll have to get hold of a copy.