Sunday, September 4, 2011

Short book review: Genesis, Creation, and Early Man: The Orthodox Christian Vision by Fr. Seraphim Rose



I expected much more from this book than I received. Overall, I was very disappointed. Rather than giving the reader a thoroughly Patristic interpretation of "Genesis, creation, and early man" we are instead subjected to page after page of the crassest biblical literalism, disgusting Protestant-based and -created pseudo-science, and the persistent assurance that anyone who disagrees with Fr. Seraphim's opinions on these matters is a heretic. Fr. Seraphim may quote heavily from the Fathers, but his approach is that of a Protestant fundamentalist, not the approach of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Christian Church. One is led to wonder what Fr. Seraphim might say about the allegorical or literal nature of the iconography he features throughout the book. The only redeeming feature of the book, and it is only slightly redeeming, is his treatment of Darwinism as a philosophy, which is, when inane references to pseudo-scientific theories are removed, actually a pretty good treatment.

6 comments:

  1. Wow. A strong "anti-" review. I second the sentiments of the previous commenter; I had looked forward to reading this book, having been very impressed with Fr. Seraphim's "The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church". I might pick it up anyway, simply to read his refutation of Darwinism.

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  2. I would like to ask though: Do you think Fr. Seraphim misinterprets the Fathers, or does he accurately portray what they taught and believed? Does taking their knowledge of creation (a result of divine revelation) literally necessarily cancel out the symbolic and spiritual aspects of it?

    Also, wouldn't a monastic-- and one that fell asleep in the early 80s, long before the modern creationist/evolutionist debate-- be insulated from such things? That is to say, Fr. Seraphim might not have read "Creationist Literature", and simply come to the conclusions he did independent of it.

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  3. "but his approach is that of a Protestant fundamentalist, not the approach of the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Christian Church."

    Please explain and demonstrate this statement rather than simply making and assertion. Thanks

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  4. what Fr. Seraphim actually says is:
    "The sophisticated, worldly-wise laugh at those who call evolution a “heresy.” True, evolution is not strictly speaking a heresy" (2nd edition, p. 497 ... also in the 1st edition)

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