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Ecclesial Being: Contributions to Theological Dialogue
In his Ecclesial Being: Contributions to Theological Dialogue, Professor Constantine Scouteris focuses most ably on the mystery of the human person in the context of the conciliarity of the Church. His vision of the unity of the Orthodox churches, based on the Pauline theme of the New Israel, embraces all Orthodox Christian peoples wonderfully diverse in language and culture as one nation in Christ, which the entire world is invited to join.
The question of the Orthodox understanding of the Church is one of the most pressing of our times, and Professor Scouteris’ book is simply masterful in its presentation of the Body of Christ as a theanthropic institution. His genius, which is more than evident in this book, is his ability to treat complex themes with remarkable clarity, a clarity which stems from his profound erudition and special relationship with his spiritual father, St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia.
About the Author
Dr. Scouteris was Professor of Theology in the University of Athens, Greece, and Adjunct Professor in the History of Doctrine at the Theological School of the University of Balamand, Lebanon.
Obituary by Professor Christopher Veniamin for The Times of London, Monday, January 11, 2010
Constantine Scouteris: Greek theologian
How precious are thy friends unto me, O God! (Psalm 139:17 LXX).
Constantine Scouteris was one of Greece’s foremost theologians, specializing in ecclesiology, the mystery of the Church as a theanthropic institution, and in Christian anthropology, the nature and purpose of human existence.
Never swayed or distracted by the “fruit of the month” approach to theology, Scouteris was attuned to the more serious concerns of the day, and always focused on the perennial, ultimate questions of life. He was deeply convinced that communion – personal communion – was the key to world unity and peace.
The burning question for Scouteris, therefore, was how to enter into real communion with others and attain to true unity.
Professor Scouteris was a man of considerable culture and learning, who worked tirelessly, for nigh on 40 years, as a responsible and faithful representative of the Orthodox Church in ecumenical dialogue at the highest level, and constantly strove to build bridges by which reconciliation could take place. But the answer to his burning question of unity was to be found, ultimately, in the person of Elder Porphyrios of Athens, Scouteris’ spiritual father and the personification of the Orthodox Patristic tradition, with whom he enjoyed a long and enduring friendship. For Scouteris, Porphyrios was nothing less than “an angel incarnate”, who in his life bore witness to the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.
Paraphrasing Porphyrios, Scouteris would say, “The goal of the Christian is not to receive gifts from God. It is love”, which is “an exodus from selfishness”. This “exodus from selfishness” and this love come as a direct result of “communion with God”. As he once told me personally, “Communion is the greatest gift that God has bestowed on the human race” – communion with one another, the ability to enter into a personal relationship with one’s neighbour.
In imitation of his beloved spiritual father, Professor Scouteris accepted the cross of his final illness, in the understanding that the gifts of God “are truly the fruits of patience and suffering.” He lived his last days in great pain, but also in thanksgiving – in gratitude for all the gifts that God had bestowed upon him, and especially for his dear wife, Pitsa, and family. Scouteris’ own words on Porphyrios apply equally to himself: “He never prayed for God to make him well. He didn’t pray for his own relief. He glorified God.”
Tall, fair and handsome, with a warm and endearing smile, Professor Constantine B. Scouteris was born in Athens in 1939. He began his formal theological training at the University of Athens, where he received his doctorate for his work on St. Gregory of Nyssa. He studied at the University of Strasbourg, where he also took the doctorate of theology (En Sciences Religieuses), and undertook research at Oxford. In 1981, he was elected Professor of the History of Doctrine and Symbolic Theology in the University of Athens, having been appointed to the faculty in 1973, and later serving as Dean of the School of Theology, from 2001 to 2004.
Dr. Scouteris also taught at the Theological School of the University of Balamand, in Tripoli, Lebanon (since 1986), and at the Theological Schools of the universities of Geneva and Freiburg (since 2001).
In recognition of his service to theological learning and the Church, he was elected member of the prestigious Académie Internationale des Sciences Religieuses in 2001.
In March and April of 2006, he was sponsored by the Onassis Foundation (USA) to conduct a lecture tour of the United States in the context of its University Seminar Program.
A man for all seasons, Dr. Scouteris represented the Orthodox Church in a variety of capacities all over the world: in the Orthodox–Anglican dialogue, in the European Council of Churches (CEC), and in the World Council of Churches (WCC), and was always regarded with respect as a positive force in the quest for unity.
His works have been translated into numerous languages and include: The Ecclesiology of Saint Gregory of Nyssa (1960); La Place de l’Ordination dans la théologie sacramentaire de Syméon de Thessalonique (1969); The Meaning of the Terms “Theology”, “to theologize” and “Theologian” in the Teaching of the Greek Fathers up to and including the Cappadocians (1972); Consequences of the Fall and the Font of Regeneration: From the Anthropology of St. Gregory of Nyssa (1973); The 39 Articles of the Anglican Church: In the Light of the Orthodox Symbolic Tradition (1982); History of Christian Doctrine (Vol. 1, 1998; Vol. 2, 2004); and Ecclesial Being (2005).