On the Tree of the Cross: Georges Florovsky and the Patristic Doctrine of Atonement

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"Thou hast redeemed us from the curse of the Law by Thy precious Blood. By being nailed to the Cross and pierced with the Spear, Thou hast poured immortality on mankind. O our Saviour, glory to Thee. " — Troparion for Holy Friday. “Atonement” is a contested but inescapable term in contemporary English-language theological discussion. The doctrine of atonement has received little attention in Orthodox Christian circles since the work of Fr Georges Florovsky, who labored to clarify and promulgate the Orthodox teaching on atonement on the basis of his theological leitmotifs of neo-patristic synthesis and encounter with the West. Florovsky saw the doctrine of the person of Christ as the key to apprehending the pattern and the unity of God’s redemptive work. Hence he always sought to follow the Church Fathers in weaving together the themes of creation and fall, incarnation and atonement, deification and redemption, and liturgy and asceticism, in the variegated yet seamless robe of true theology. The present volume is inspired by Florovsky’s legacy. It is composed of two parts. The first is a collections of papers on atonement by contemporary theologians from a patristic symposium in honor of Florovsky held at Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton University in 2011. The second part is a collection of writings on atonement by Florovsky himself, including previously unpublished manuscripts and other works otherwise hard to access. This book offers incisive and informed neo-patristic voices to any contemporary discussion of atonement, thus responding to the perennial legacy and task to which Fr Georges Florovsky exhorted Orthodox theological reflection.