Book Preview: The Old Testament in Eastern Orthodox Tradition

On Behalf of All - Book Preview

This month, Oxford University Press is releasing The Old Testament in Eastern Orthodox Tradition, the latest publication by Fr. Eugen J. Pentiuc.

Fr. Eugen was born and raised in Romania, where he began his theological education despite the shadow of communist oppression. He has since received graduate degrees from both Harvard University (M.A., Ph.D.) and the University of Bucharest (Th.D.). Currently a tenured Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at the prestigious Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, Fr. Eugen is also a respected presbyter of the Orthodox Church.

Besides the forthcoming volume, Fr. Eugen has written numerous articles, acted as an associate editor for The Orthodox Study Bible (Thomas Nelson), and has authored several previous publications, including:

For his latest work, the description from Oxford reads:

The Old Testament in Eastern Orthodox Tradition by Fr. Eugen PentiucThis study provides a general overview and a succinct analysis of the primary ways in which the Old Testament has been received, interpreted and conveyed within Eastern Orthodox tradition, filling a vacuum in scholarly literature on the history of biblical interpretation.

The book is divided into two parts: Reception and Interpretation.

Under Reception issues such as unity and diversity of the Christian Bible, text, canon, and Tradition are considered. The second part, Interpretation, focuses on Eastern Orthodox modes of interpretation: discursive and intuitive. Among the discursive modes, the patristic exegesis is chosen as a case study. The intuitive modes representing the so-called “liturgical exegesis” are subdivided into aural (hymns, psalmody, lectionaries) and visual (portable icons, frescoes, mosaics).

A special emphasis is placed on the hallmarks of Eastern Orthodox reception and interpretation of the Old Testament, including: the centrality of Scripture within Tradition, a blend of flexibility and strictness at all levels of the faith community, integrative function and holistic use of the sacred text, a tensed unity of discursive and intuitive modes of interpretation, and a dynamic synergy between formative and informative goals in the use of Scripture.

Both the study and usage of the Old Testament in the Orthodox tradition is undervalued in academic circles today, and Fr. Eugen’s work will serve as an authoritative and much-needed work. A noted expert in both Semitic languages and Old Testament studies, Fr. Eugen’s unique blend of  scholarly finesse and fidelity to Orthodox tradition makes The Old Testament in Eastern Orthodox Tradition a book worthy of our closest attention.

Some advanced praise for Fr. Eugen’s latest achievement:

In this extraordinarily learned book, Pentiuc sheds much-needed light on an often neglected aspect of the history of interpretation of the Bible. Appropriately, he discusses not just texts, but ritual and art as well, so that reading his book is like walking into a lavishly ornamented Eastern Orthodox church where the Divine Liturgy is being celebrated. This view from the inside is an invaluable contribution. —Michael Coogan, editor of The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible

This work is a major event: the first comprehensive and thorough analysis of the role of the Old Testament in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, written by the foremost Eastern Orthodox scholar of Scripture, internationally respected within both Church and Academy alike. Opening up the scriptural culture of Eastern Orthodoxy in all its dimensions, this illuminating volume will richly reward every reader. —V. Rev. Dr. John Behr, Dean and Professor of Patristics, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

According to the publisher, the book is slated to be released on January 9, and you can pre-order a copy from Amazon today.

Once released, Fr. Eugen has agreed to do an interview for On Behalf of All, and will be answering some probing questions into the subject matter of his latest work—along with other related issues facing both Orthodox Christians and textual scholars today.

Stay tuned for more.


  1. Jim L West says

    I got to attend a seminar with Fr. Pentiuc here in Albuquerque at St. George Greek Orthodox Church. He had some pre-release copies of his book for sale. It’s as good as the pre-reviews say. Looking forward to the interview.

  2. John Coolidge says

    I have purchased this book and am about half way done with it. One word: phenomenal!

    It’s technical, but still within my reach (this means it’s a great book for almost everyone).

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