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Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights in Europe

A Dialogue Between Theological Paradigms and Socio-Legal Pragmatics

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Edited By ELISABETH-ALEXANDRA DIAMANTOPOULOU and Louis-Léon Christians

This collective book aims at examining in what terms, and to what extent, the "reception" of the Human Rights doctrine takes place in Eastern Orthodox countries, as well as in the Orthodox diaspora. A series of questions are raised regarding the resources and theological structures that are mobilized in the overall Human Rights’ debate and controversy, the theological "interpretation" of Human Rights within the Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition, and the similarities and/or divergences of this "interpretation", compared to the other Christian confessions. Special attention is given to the various Orthodox actors on the international arena, aside the national Orthodox churches, which participate in the Ecumenical dialogue, as well as the dialogue with the European and international institutions.

Religious freedom, as a fundamental Human right, guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), constitutes a key-issue that contributes to broadening the reflections on the overall Human Rights-related problematic between East and West, by shading light on the more complex issue pertaining to the conceptualization and implementation of Human Rights in countries belonging to the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

The present volume studies the diversity that characterizes the Orthodox theological traditions and interpretations regarding Human Rights, not only in terms of an "external", or a "strategical" approach of socio-political and ecclesial nature, but also through a reflexive analysis of theological discourses.

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Orthodox Personalism. In Favor of or Against Human Rights? (Vasilios N. Makrides)

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← 238 | 239 →

Orthodox Personalism

In Favor of or Against Human Rights?

Vasilios N. MAKRIDES

1.  Introduction

Even a casual look at the contemporary Orthodox theological scene can easily reveal one of its dominant orientations, namely one that revolves around the central notion of the person. One may thus rightly speak of an Orthodox personalism or personhood as a widespread and more or less established discourse today, generated in diverse contexts, sustained through various arguments and formulated by different theologians and thinkers. In most cases, this discourse is informed by the Greek Patristic thought and by the Orthodox tradition in general. Historically, the concept of the person has a great deal to do with the Trinitarian and Christological debates of the fourth and fifth centuries – a period when this concept stood in contrast to the concepts of essence/substance and nature. Another source of related impulses comes from the Hesychast controversies in fourteenth-century Byzantium, and from the relationship between the divine essence/energy distinction of Gregory Palamas on the one hand, and the doctrine of persons of the Trinity on the other hand. In some cases, though, this discourse is also informed by developments in contemporary philosophy and human sciences. One may thus speak of an “Orthodox philosophy of the person”1, and perhaps even more so of an “Orthodox theology of the person” – all without drawing ← 239 | 240 → a strict demarcation line between the concepts.2 Yet, despite eventual differences in such approaches,...

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