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• to appreciate the depth and beauty of the dominant form of Christianity in Greece, Russia and much of Eastern Europe

• to understand the tenets, nature and holy days of Orthodox belief

• to recognize the physical features of an Orthodox church, and the spiritual significance of icons

• to know what to expect and how to conduct yourself during Orthodox services and ceremonies

Orthodoxy is the dominant form of Christianity in Greece, Russia, parts of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Its practices are largely unfamiliar in the West, and have remained essentially unchanged since the earliest days of the faith. This lucid introduction outlines the tenets, nature and holy days of Orthodox belief with the Western reader in mind. It describes the physical church, especially icons, services, and common practices, and offers advice to visitors on how to conduct themselves so that they are accepted and feel comfortable.

Several chapters concern the life of Jesus and the beginnings of Christianity; others trace the origins and history of the Church, with particular attention to its great champion, Constantine the Great. The present structure of the Church is described in brief, and the split between the Eastern and the Western Churches is related with differences clearly explained.

The great antiquity and beauty of its liturgy, its essentially minimal hierarchy and its mystical yet pragmatic approach make the Orthodox religion a powerful medium for its profound and universal message. This deceptively simple volume takes the reader on a journey to the heart of the Christian tradition.


Simple Guides: Religion is a series of concise, accessible introductions to the world’s major religions. Written by experts in the field, they offer an engaging and sympathetic description of the key concepts, beliefs and practices of different faiths.

Ideal for spiritual seekers and travellers alike, Simple Guides aims to open the doors of perception. Together the books provide a reliable compass to the world’s great spiritual traditions, and a point of reference for further exploration and discovery. By offering essential insights into the core values, customs and beliefs of different
societies, they also enable visitors to be aware of the cultural sensibilities of their hosts, and to behave in a way that fosters mutual respect and understanding.

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