Thursday, May 15, 2008

NEW BOOK: Surprised by Christ by Fr. A. James Bernstein

Conciliar Press Ministries is pleased to announce the release of a new spiritual memoir of a man's conversion from Judaism to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Raised in Queens, New York by formerly Orthodox Jewish parents whose faith had been undermined by the Holocaust, Arnold Bernstein went on a quest for the God he instinctively felt was there. He was ready to accept God in whatever form He chose to reveal Himself—and that form turned out to be Christ.

But Bernstein soon perceived discrepancies in the various forms of Protestant belief that surrounded him, and so his quest continued—this time for the true Church. With his Jewish heritage as a foundation, he came to the conclusion that the faith of his forefathers was fully honored and brought to completion only in the Orthodox Christian Church.

Surprised by Christ combines an engrossing memoir of one man’s life in historic situations—from the Six-Day War to the Jesus Movement in Berkeley—with a deeply felt examination of the distinctives of Orthodox theology that make the Orthodox Church the true home not only for Christian Jews, but for all who seek to know God as fully as He may be known.

The Rev. A. JAMES BERNSTEIN was a teenage chess champion whose dramatic conversion experience at the age of 16 led him to Christianity. His spiritual journey has included a number of twists and turn: he was chapter president of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at Queens College, helped found the Jews for Jesus ministry in San Francisco, was a staff member of the Christian World Liberation Front in Berkeley, served as a pastor of an Evangelical Orthodox Church near Silicon Valley, and later became an Eastern Orthodox convert and then priest. He lives with his wife Bonnie outside of Seattle, Washington, where he serves as pastor of St. Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church. Father James is the author of the booklets Orthodoxy: Jewish and Christian (Conciliar Press, 1990); Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament (CP, 1994); and Communion: A Family Affair (CP, 1999). He was also a contributor to the Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms (Thomas Nelson, 1993).

For more information or to order Surprised by Christ, go to

Friday, May 2, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: The Lenten Triodion Supplement

Published by: St. Tikhon Seminary Press

Reviewed by: Macrina Lewis,

At long last the Lenten Triodion Supplement is available in hardback format. For Orthodox liturgists, chanters, and choir directors, and also for those wishing to pray through the hymnography of the church at home when services are not locally available, this volume is a “pearl of great price.” The unassuming black hardcover boasting a gold-embossed cross contains essential hymnography for the long Lenten season. This volume joins its predecessors, The Lenten Triodion and The Festal Menaion, to form a triumvirate of what liturgists call “movable hymnography” for celebrating major feasts and the Great Fast throughout the liturgical year.

All three volumes have been translated as a joint effort between Met. KALLISTOS Ware of England and Mother Mary of the Monastery of the Veil in Bussey-en-Othe, France. The layout design of the Triodion Supplement tastefully matches that of the other two volumes, making for a clear and familiar presentation. Although there are a few minor word choices and spellings which reflect a more proper English than what is common usage in America, these are clearly the most widely-used and most cohesive texts available in English for Festal and Lenten hymnography.

The primary hymnography for Lent (including the preceding weeks, the first week, the weekends, and Holy Week) is found in The Lenten Triodion proper. The Lenten Triodion Supplement contains all the “supplementary” texts needed for weekdays of the Lenten season, including prescribed readings and prokeimena as well as hymnography for the daily Matins, Hours, and Vespers/Presanctified services.

Up until now, this translation and the full volume of supplementary texts has only been available in a spiral bind volume produced by the Monastery of the
Veil, and in recent years has become increasingly difficult to procure. With a pre-PC typewriter, the sisters did a wonderful job of making this great work available for the faithful, but the present publication elevates it to the rightful status it deserves alongside the other two volumes. There have been no changes in translation from the original; only the few minor spelling corrections necessary were changed in the text.

The paper is slightly glossy and appears very durable and easy to handle. The text is crisp and clean, printed in a traditional serif font on bright white. The volume measures 7” x 9”, matching the size of the volumes previously printed by St. Tikhon’s (The Festal Menaion, 1990 and The Lenten Triodion, 1994). The price is surprisingly low for such a good quality volume.

This most useful and handsome book will be well-used and treasured in many a kliros and prayer corner. Joining its predecessors, it completes the definitive set of English-language source-books for the Festal and Lenten hymnographical cycle. A hearty thanks to St. Tikhon’s for making this available. The volume itself ends with apt words: “Glory be to God.” Amen!