Introduction to Humility

by Archimandrite [now Archbishop] Chrysostomos [of Etna]

The present volume is the first in a series of projected volumes on themes in the psychology of the Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In general, the themes will parallel the major topical divisions in the primary collection of writings on the early Eastern monastics of the Egyptian desert, the Euergetinos. The Euergetinos, first published in the eighteenth century through the efforts of two Greek Saints, Makarios of Corinth and Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, recounts the lives and spiritual accomplishments of the early desert Fathers. These ascetic strugglers, during the first few centuries of Christianity, brought the Christian virtues into a living witness. Their lives reveal a practical application of the theory of Christianity, and it is from their witness that centuries of Christians, both in the East and in the West, have drawn their very definitions of the Christian life, the Christian soul, and the Christian mind. Their exploits and deeds, as narrated in the Euergetinos, form a brilliant mosaic, a composition patterned by such singular virtues as humility, obedience, repentance, and love, among others. From these virtues we will draw the themes for the individual volumes in our series, psychological pieces that might ultimately lead us to a vision of the phronema ton pateron, of that resplendent mosaic which is the mind of the Fathers themselves. Accordingly, each volume will build on translated selections from the various topical divisions of the Euergetinos, tracing from the early desert to contemporary Orthodox spirituality the golden thread continuity by which the Orthodox Fathers, past and present, are joined "en to auto noi" ["in the same mind"] and "en te aute gnome" ["in the same thought"] (I Corinthians 1:10).

To initiate an English-language series on the psychology of the Orthodox Fathers is an onerous task. Western thinkers are accustomed to separating the mind and the spirit. If they study humility, obedience, repentance, or even love, they treat these subjects either from the perspective of the spirit, phenomenologically, or in a behavioristic way, from the perspective of the mind (or, more precisely, of the brain). Modern psychology, for example, rarely posits a nexus between the mind and the spirit and most sedulously eschews the world of phenomenology, of the spirit. To be sure the rare exceptions exist and are as venerable as William James, as celebrated as Carl Jung, and as timely as Viktor Frankl. But these men, to a large extent, are the betes noires of today's psychology, at best thought of as eclectic eccentrics, at worst as alchemist-like charlatans. For the most part, such things as humility, obedience, repentance, or love are reduced to specific, observable behaviors ("operationalized" in scientific parlance) and studied as variables shaped by the environment, social conditioning, or perhaps the personality. They are separated from the spirit, indeed from the soul, and lose a certain wholeness. Even from the standpoint of the Gestalt psychologists, who strive to find a wholeness in the person, this wholeness is more perceptual or cognitive than spiritual; the mind dominates.

The Orthodox Fathers, on the other hand, know of no such separation of the mind and spirit. If one attains to the spiritual virtues, it is through the interaction and cooperation of mind and spirit. True psychology, for them, is not the simple description of habituation, of the reinforcement patterns by which the mind blindly reacts to stimuli in the environment—though, as in the case of St. John of the Ladder, they knew this limited sense of psychology to a degree that would astound a contemporary learning theorist. True psychology is the control of the mind's sensitivity to the environment by the mind's harmonious cooperation with the spirit. It encompasses, moreover, the entire process by which the spirit, too, is touched by the world, and by which the spirit frees itself from its fallen state and comes to interact in concord with the Will of God. The Orthodox Fathers understand psychology, short, for what it truly is: psychologia, the study of the soul.

Western thinkers are at times wont to underestimate the actuality of the wholeness of mind and spirit that, for the Orthodox Fathers, constitutes the person. They fail to grasp that at the very core of Orthodox spirituality lies the potential for the most intimate communion of the worlds of the spirit and the mind (indeed, in a limited way, the flesh), culminating in theosis [divinization], or participation, in the present life, of the human in the divine. As Professor Joan Hussey, the eminent Byzantinist, has commented, the Orthodox Church approaches the heavenly through the earthly, through the material, and (we might add) attempts to bring them into harmony. Humility, obedience, repentance, and love, therefore, are not, for the Orthodox, simple virtues or mere human attributes conditioned by various environmental or psychic factors alone; they are, rather, elements in a larger psychological scheme, in which the individual undergoes a transformation in mind and spirit. They are more than the characteristics defined in the limited psychology of the modern West. They are special virtues which derive from both the inner and the outer worlds of man, both from his mind and from his spirit. Their significance rests in that special, mystical psychology of the Fathers, the consensus of mind and thought captured so uniquely in Orthodox Tradition.

We see that the psychology of the Orthodox Fathers, far more complex and expansive than the psychologies of contemporary social scientists, frightfully challenges the limitations of the Western intellect, truncated as that intellect is by its mentalistic and spiritualistic poverty. This is especially true for Western converts to Eastern and for Christians born into the Orthodox Church but raised in the West. They intuitively realize, when they are painfully honest with themselves, that the Orthodox world of the spirit, in the Orthodox theological system, is integrally bound up with the world of the Orthodox mind. To be Orthodox is not just to hold a belief; it is to have a psychology, a peculiar psychology which blends what one believes with the way that one behaves and thinks. It becomes suddenly apparent, In the process of honest self-analysis, that Orthodox belief and Western behavior and patterns of thinking are not fundamentally compatible.

The Westerner, whether Orthodox or not, must come finally to understand that an acceptance of Orthodox belief is an acceptance of an Orthodox way of thinking, of an Orthodox psychology which formed the great Orthodox empires of Byzantium and Holy Russia, among others. He must come to the sometimes disconcerting conclusion that, despite the inevitable limitations of these Orthodox societies (which polemical heterodox writers have exploited at the cost of the tremendous accomplishments of the empires), they represent the blending of spirit and mind, lifted to the level of the blending of religion and culture, which is the psychology of the Fathers. With this realization there often comes an immediate repulsion, the Westerner musing: "Must I give up my own culture to be Orthodox?" And as often as not, this repulsion gives way to an accusation of philetism against those who properly exalt the classical model of Orthodox society epitomized in the Byzantine and Russian empires. The repulsion prompts a distorted understanding of the principle of accommodation to diverse cultures which is a touchstone of the Orthodox missionary tradition.

This misunderstanding is a further failure to grasp the psychology of the Fathers. Just as the mind and the spirit cannot be separated, so religion and culture, in the Orthodox Weltanschauung, cannot be separated. Virtues are formed by the harmonious interaction of the mind and the spirit, guided by the Divine Will. So, too, a worldly society is exalted and transformed when its culture and religion reflect the Divine Will. As alien as such a concept may be to those whose not on of theocracy is limited to the Papacy or Calvin's Geneva, this reflection is, after all, the triumph towards which every Orthodox society has striven. This reflection is the image of the icon of the earthly realm ascending toward the archetype of the heavenly city. The cultures of the Orthodox Fathers were the joint expressions of their minds, just as the Church, in the great Orthodox empires, was the joint expression of their spirits, the true ekklesia.

Where this psychology prevails, whether among Greeks, Russians, Serbs, or I (perhaps eventually) Americans, it transcends nationality and culture as we commonly understand them. It is a deep expression of Orthodoxy itself, and it is incumbent upon us that we honor and emulate this cultural psychology. It calls us to a vision of the heavenly homeland, moving us away from the mundane into conformity with the spiritual. We give up a culture which is not truly a culture for an internal spiritual sense, for a transformed view of society, for a spiritual culture, as it were. And this is not for us philetism, for philetism exalts the worth of the societies of man, seducing us, in our love for them, to ask if we "must give up our own culture to be Orthodox." To know 'the psychology of an Orthodox society is to know an elemental force in the spiritual evolution of all mankind. It is to enter a realm where philetism cannot be.

It is to no small extent that we see in contemporary Orthodoxy in the West—and, one might venture to say, even to a limited degree in the East, as in the xenophilous fervor of many young intellectuals in Greece today – not only a misunderstanding of the encompassing psychology of the Fathers, but a vehement resistance to it. A new convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, for example, finding little significance in some of the "externals" of more traditional Orthodox worship, recently wrote a friend referring to these liturgical traditions as a preoccupation with "bells and smells." Undoubtedly the writer's feelings were expressed with sincerity and honesty. However, they betray an internal resistance to the notion that the ritualistic practices of the Church transmit, through the transformation of the mind (indeed, of the senses, even the olfactory and acoustic senses), a spiritual perception; i.e., an awareness of a psychology of ritual, of a psychology in this realm too (that of worship), formed in classical Orthodox societies and passed down by them to those of us in the West.

In this same vein, some Orthodox in America, in what is a shameful display of poor taste, have derided the Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (the Russian Synod first formed in Karlovtzy, under the protection of the Serbian Patriarchate, by Prelates fleeing the Communist onslaught) for including, among the newly glorified martyrs of Russia under the Communist yoke, the Tsar Nicholas II and his family. Amidst vulgar accusations against the "White Russian Synod," as it has been insolently called, these captives of a Western mentality have impugned the sanctity of the Tsar and his family and the very reality of their massacre for reasons of faith—something reminiscent of the less vocal, albeit popular, attacks against the holiness of St. Constantine the Great. The notion that, because he was not (in the opinion of some) an exemplary ruler, the Tsar could not be a Saint is one of the more ludicrous arguments put forth in these attacks. It should not be imagined, of course, that political aptitude is a prerequisite for spiritual eminence. The more basic question in this dispute, however, stems again from a misunderstanding of the cultural psychology of traditional Orthodoxy.

There can be, by definition, no mere "political" act in a traditional Orthodox society, for society and the spiritual are intimately joined. There exists not even the possibility of la vie spirituelle in the Western sense, separated as it is from other aspects of social reality. Hence, a political assassination is not the simple murder of a ruler; it is an act of violence against the spiritual fibre of society. And who can doubt this in recounting the savage barbarism surrounding the death of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas and his family? The atrocious viciousness of their murderers calls to mind an attack against all decency, against every moral principle with which religion itself, whether Eastern or Western, is aligned. Just as St. Constantine, who brought peace to the Church, was a pivotal figure in the propagation of the Christian message across the Roman Empire, so the last Russian Tsar, in ruling over the last, great Orthodox empire, over one sixth of earth's land mass, fulfilled his role, even unto death, according to the Divine Will. One emperor ushered in the age of the Orthodox empire, the other ushered it out. And history, as the fulfillment of God's Will, elevates both of them above human views of moral perfection or spiritual attainment. They belong to a realm of holiness not fully within the scope of our limited human reason to understand. History vindicates them, because of their singular import in the unfolding of Orthodox society, of any human frailty. How much more they are innocent of the accusations placed before them by those who fail to understand the basic nature of Patristic psychology both at the individual and cultural levels.

Even the supposed "cultural oddities" of the classical Orthodox societies are at times nothing less than remnants of the Patristic psychology bequeathed to them by their forebears. Here, too, one must not succumb to a superficial view of these traits, as though they were simple "cultural differences." In his brilliant, evocative study of Gandhi, the renowned psychologist, Erik Erikson, seeks within Gandhi's spiritual life and religious heritage the source of the Indian leader's personality. This is the same course which we must pursue in investigating the Orthodox world. So encompassing is the Orthodox ethos, that one can boldly assert that the individual, in that world does not much affect the spiritual milieu in which he lives; rather, the religious life in a classical Orthodox society forms and operates on the man. Orthodox man derives from his religion, not his religion from him. Thus many ostensible cultural traits are in actual fact expressions of profound theological principles which operate in the social and political realities of everyday Orthodox life. Let me illustrate my point.

In reference to the expansive nature of classical Indian religion, Professor Erikson notes that Indians are often characterized as pathological liars, devoid of a sense of personal honesty as we in the West understand it. Rather than attribute this, in the simplistic manner of most social psychologists, to social conditioning or to a peculiarity in the moral development of Indians, he turns to Indian religious philosophy. In traditional Hindu thought, the notion of truth has always been a metaphysical one, lifted away from the locus of human interaction and personal attributes. The apparent penchant for lying among Indians, then, in Dr. Erikson's mind, results from a concept of truth which permeates the culture and the personality. To think, when an Indian lies, that he is operating from an indifference to the truth is an unjustified and rather unfair assumption. In fact, it is out of a deference for a truth not present in such metaphysical dimensions in Western society that the Indian often fails to emphasize personal honesty.

Orthodox, too, in a traditional society, would, while extolling the virtue of personal honesty, emphasize that truth is ultimately a subtle, spiritual quality, transcending the individual and the limitations of his personal psychology. At times this gives forth to less preoccupation with personal honesty. Thus pejorative terms related to classical Orthodox societies have entered into the Western vocabulary. As often as one hears of "Byzantine intrigue," he hears of the slyness of the Russian character and the general deceptiveness of the Eastern European. While these accusations are, on the whole, fatuous accusations, as such, and certainly clear examples of cultural intolerance by those who repeat them, it is by no accident that they relate to populations nurtured in the bosom of the Eastern Church. They represent, in their distorted and accusatory way, an acknowledgement of the wholly unique manner in which Orthodox life is conducted. They aver that the Western idea of truth is, just as when applied to the Indian East, inadequate to capture the psychology of the Orthodox East.

In my own experimental investigations as a layman and psychologist, I conducted studies which brought the question of cultural disparity and spiritual psychology into vivid focus for me. I came to understand that, in the Orthodox personality, the blending of mind and spirit is observable even in cognitive processes and overt behaviors. In a series of publications, the distinguished Russian emigre psychologist, Professor Nikolai Khokhlov, and I have presented data that establish, with some certainty, that Greek populations tolerate far greater ambiguity in their cognitions than Western European and American subjects. There have always been, of course, acknowledged differences in the ways that different nationalities approach their psychological worlds. The Germans show a certain disposition toward order and consistency (Ordnung und Festigkeit) that can be demonstrated by psychometric means. The Spanish, on the other hand, seem to tolerate some inconsistency, as evidenced by a traditional Spanish proverb: "Si una persona no se contradice, quizas es porque no tiene nada que decir" ["if a person does not contradict himself perhaps it is because he has nothing to say"]. But these divergent views are more literary and poetic, in the final analysis, since both Germans and Spaniards, in empirical investigations, show the consistency in cognitions which is taken by most social psychologists as a cornerstone of social, if not sensory, perception. Dr. Khokhlov and I found, however, that our Greek subjects tolerated ambiguity at a deep cognitive level, that they have a psychology, perhaps, not predicated on cognitive consistency. And preliminary data seem to suggest that this finding holds for other traditionally Orthodox populations.

In the Orthodox theological world, one might speak of a kind of relative absolutism. What is an absolute manifestation of truth in the spiritual realm is not always understood in absolute categories in the mundane world. For instance, the idea of the Trinity (fundamentally a theological formulation of the Eastern Fathers), while a dogmatic absolute in spiritual terms, may only be relatively understood by the categories of human reason. Consequently, no traditional Orthodox finds difficulty in preserving and protecting the precise form of the dogmatic, theologic explication of the Holy Trinity by the Holy Fathers, while at the same time acknowledging his own inability even to fathom the nature of this truth. All Orthodox theological terms, indeed, have reference to multiple dimensions, to multiple planes of spiritual experience and insight. The same expressions and words can, at times, refer to several different phenomena, depending on the intent of the writer and the skill and spiritual development of the reader. Tolerance of ambiguity, then, is part of the spiritual life of the Eastern Christian, part of the psychology passed down by the Fathers, which acts both on the mind and the spirit. A supposed cultural oddity, by which Orthodox populations seem to tolerate cognitive inconsistency, is not that at all; it is an expression of a psychology perhaps necessary to an understanding of the sublime, abstract realm in which Orthodox theologizing takes place—a psychology which touches both the mind and the spirit and which we must attain, to some extent, in order to reach into the inner core of the Christian Truth as Orthodox receive it. To resist this psychology is to court spiritual peril.

We have acknowledged the difficulties involved in an exposition of Orthodox Patristic psychology for a Western readership. The Western intellectual understands psychology, the person, society, culture, and religion in a way that is foreign to the world of Eastern Christian thought. Moreover, as we have pointed out, even Orthodox Christians living in the West have estranged themselves from the thinking of their forefathers. They have at times, in fact, developed attitudes inimical to the classical Orthodox world. As challenging as these impediments may be to an understanding of the psychology of the Orthodox Fathers, however, they are secondary in the face of the great silence, the great historical amnesia, in the West vis-a-vis the Orthodox Church and the historical road of the Christian religion. Despite the presence of many millions of Orthodox Christians in the West, and despite the fact that Orthodox scholars of singular fame have held forth in some of the most prestigious academic institutions in America and Western Europe, there is still a dearth of knowledge concerning the Eastern Orthodox Church. This lack of knowledge, as we shall see, is both innocent and intentional.

At the popular level, knowledge of the Orthodox Church has simply not reached all Westerners. One of the Fathers of our monastery, speaking to a Protestant women's guild about the Eastern Christian tradition, was astounded when, during the question period following his lecture, a woman in the audience asked, "Does your Church use our Bible?" The questioner was equally surprised by the response: "No, actually you use a translation of ours." This episode captures the enigmatic situation of the Orthodox Church in the West. Christianity is an Eastern religion. It was spread, initially, in Eastern tongues. Monasticism, the early liturgies, the basic dogmatic formulations of the Christian Faith, the earliest canon of Scripture—all of these are basically of Eastern origin. The Eastern Orthodox Church is, as one Western authority puts it, the "Mother Church," Christianity's oldest Church. Yet a Roman Catholic living in the West is astonished, if not a bit insulted, to learn that there is a Christian Church with traditions that outdate the traditions of his own religion. Protestants, the champions of the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura, are aghast to find that the Orthodox Church considers the canon of Scripture a product of Her ecclesiastical tradition and spiritual domain. The enigma of the alienation of the Christian West from the Christian East is captured in one of Pascal's aphorisms: "How many kingdoms know nothing of us!" It is at once the complaint of the misunderstood Eastern Christian and the apology of newly-informed Western Christians.

At the academic level, the Christian East has often been unfairly dealt with by Western scholars. How many students of history complete their courses of study and cannot recount the major periods in the history of the Byzantine empire? If mention is made of the Orthodox Church in history courses, it is usually pointed out that the Eastern Orthodox Church separated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1054, as the result of a personality conflict between Church leaders. Few Western students are taught to wonder how the oldest Christian Church, the Church of the East, the Church of the original Patriarchates, could have possibly separated from a single Western Patriarchate. They seldom see that the Western Church, after the collapse of the Western part of the Roman empire, moved steadily away from the theological, social, and cultural hegemony of the Christian East, culminating in its departure from the Eastern Patriarchates in 1054. They fail to understand that it might be far more accurate to speak of the Roman Church as having split from the Eastern Church.*

So absurd can the treatment of the Eastern Church become that its witness is wholly distorted, and it becomes the object of the poorest possible scholarly investigation, of scholarship sometimes bordering on persiflage. An outline of Church history popular among fundamentalist Christian scholars perhaps highlights this lack of objectivity. The Eastern Orthodox Church, according to this source, converted the Russian people to Christianity 988. This is an accurate fact, acknowledging the missionary growth of Orthodox Christianity into Eastern Europe. However, the outline pinpoints 1054 as the year that the Eastern Orthodox Church came into existence, following a rupture of communion between Eastern Christians and the Roman See. Aside from the monumental accomplishment of converting the Russians to Christianity in 988, the Eastern Orthodox Church apparently deserves even greater credit for having done so before coming into existence! In yet another "scholarly" tome, we are told that the Eastern Orthodox Church represents a religious tradition that cannot boast of official recognition before the peace of the Church under St. Constantine, thus compromising its claim to an antiquity that dates before the fourth century. Doubtless it did not occur to the author that formal imperial recognition of the Church was rather difficult to extract from the mouth of a lion.

There are, of course, many exceptions to these unfair and egregiously poor treatments of the Orthodox Church. The famous historian of early Christian monasticism, Professor Derwas Chitty, boldly equated Orthodox Christianity with the Christianity that he discovered in his study of the early Church. Professor Timothy (Kallistos) Ware, now an Orthodox Hierarch, brought his scholarly work at Oxford to the attention of many Westerners, calling them to a remembrance of their lost Eastern heritage. And a host of Orthodox scholars in other European centers of learning, at American Institutions like Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia, and elsewhere have been intrepid witnesses to the antiquity of the Orthodox Church. But these scholars constitute an academic elite, possessing the academic elan to put them at the forefront of scholarship. In general, few students or scholars stop to think that the Roman Empire outlived the fifth century, that when Charlemagne spearheaded the renaissance of Rome under the Carolingian banner, Rome, to a vast part of the Mediterranean world, had not yet died. Comfortable with their truncated, inaccurate, patently fabricated view of history, Western students and scholars go on in blissful ignorance.

The West, one might indeed observe, has forgotten its past. And when it has spurts of memory, it relegates them to the scholarly realm. It is comfortable with its false past and it perpetuates it in its learning processes. But this comfort is not entirely innocent, nor is the process of relegating the Christian East to the annals of pedantic history unintentional. Much of the memory loss is self-serving, a defense mechanism. This is because, in its ascendancy in the last few centuries, Western society has developed a certain smugness (particularly a religious smugness), to which the East is a living challenge. The East lays claim to an authenticity to which the West cannot. Their complacency challenged, many Westerners respond with a telling enmity for all that is Eastern. Thus it is that a theologian much involved in the ecumenical movement, ironically enough, recently decried the irritant presence of Eastern Orthodoxy in the modern ecclesiastical picture. He bemoaned the fact that one fifth of the world's some billion Christians have survived as a kind of institutional fossil that by all rights, irrelevant as it is to modern Christianity, should not have survived. Claiming to be the genuine Church of the Apostles, with an historical witness matched by no other Christian body, the Eastern Orthodox Church is both a challenge and a threat to modern Christianity, which has been pulled from its roots and which apparently is not anxious to find them, save on its own terms.

Ultimately, the Patristic mind calls the West to a psychology which it has lost, which it knows only in part. The Westerner is scarcely able to grasp this expansive psychology, let alone to acknowledge and correct his own spiritual and intellectual misapprehensions. He finds it difficult to Imagine that, as far as the East is from the West, as the Psalmist intones, so far too is Western Christianity from the Christianity of the ancient Church, which, as Mary Chitty once remarked, "the Eastern Orthodox Church of to-day preserves in continuity from the monks of old." It is only by an immense act of will that the Westerner can come to realize that the wisdom of the Orthodox East is not an "alternative" knowledge, not a cognitive system engendered by a strange and foreign culture, but that it is the true light from the East, dawning over "the paradise of God planted toward the East"—an East existing not geographically, but noumenally and ontologically. It is therefore appropriate that we should begin our series on this Patristic wisdom, on the psychology of the Orthodox Fathers, with a volume on humility. For it is only through humility, with a meek spirit, that the West can ever rise to that act of willful submission by which the Patristic mind will be revealed to it.

A certain Persian quoted by Heroclotus tearfully remarked, in his now famous adage, that "echthiste de echthiste de odyne esti ton en anthropoisi aute, polla phroneonta medenos krateein." This thought haunts me as I begin this series on the psychology of the Orthodox Fathers. I would, above all else, wish for these few volumes to serve as an introduction to the magnificence of the Orthodox spiritual world. If I should, indeed, aspire to this and yet lack the power to accomplish my end, my lot will be "the bitterest of human sorrow." But I trust that, in a spirit of humility, obedient to the wisdom of the Fathers, repentant for my poor apprehension of the spiritual world so freely given by Grace, and with a faithful love for the truth, I will with the prayers of my spiritual Father—attain to some success in my endeavor.

Published by the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, Etna, CA, 1994 [1983].

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For further elaboration on these claims see: Bishop [now Archbishop] Chrysostomos of Oreoi [now of Etna] and Hieromonk[now Bishop] Auxentios, The Roman West and the Byzantine East. Etna, CA: The Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1988. This is a superb, short treatment of general differences between East and West.

This little book takes us back to the quest for truth and tells us why we Orthodox believe that our Church is true to the Church established by the Apostles, why she has historical and spiritual primacy. It does so by pointing out differences and by the bold proclamation of Orthodoxy's uniqueness. [from the back cover].

Also, I cannot resist including this excerpt from p. 10:

All history, one might say, is artificial... The Western view of the Christian past, however, is particularly artificial—it is a rather a "whopping lie," as the modern idiom would have it, if only because it ignores the historical experience of more than half of the Christian world, the Christian East, from which Western Christianity itself derives! Yet, it has gained such ascendancy that one is hesitant to challenge it. It is so ubiquitous that even Eastern Christians, especially those living in the West, often embrace it themselves. And if they do not, in fact, embrace it as their personal view, they often feel compelled to speak within its framework in trying to present their own perspectives on the Christian past. The Western view has, indeed, become triumphant, despite its inadequacies in accounting, as we shall see, for a vast part of Christian history.