in progress.16 It presents a comprehensive summary of patristic theological teaching, prepared for use by those seeking to live and practise disciplines of prayer. So the hesychastic tradition, which brings together theological reflection and monastic practice, is encapsulated in a single simple prayer and a single book. The adaptability of these two formulations of the tradition is shown in the popular work The Way of a Pilgrim, which describes the discovery of hesychasm by an anonymous Russian peasant.17 The Philokalia and the Jesus Prayer have enabled the Orthodox Church as a whole to reappropriate the theological tradition developed in the Byzantine period, which has provided a theoretical basis for the growing monastic life within a materialistic and work-dominated modern society. The practice of the Jesus Prayer is spreading among both eastern and western Christians, as a simple form of prayer which can be used at several levels, from that of a quick 'arrow' prayer to a lifelong method of contemplative living. However, one should not overestimate its use, for it is the celebration of liturgical prayer that remains the basis of monastic devotion.
Theological renewal has not only taken place in the research, writing and teaching of university professors but has become a popular movement among the laity. Christian education was often restricted under Arab and Ottoman rule, and was even more tightly controlled under communist governments. Once these restrictions were removed there was a widespread thirst for learning and study. Often on the initiative of clergy or laity rather than on that of the hierarchy, the churches have set up various forms of educational institutions, which consequently have a popular base. In 1907 Father Eusebios Matthopou-los founded the 'Brotherhood of Theologians', or Zoe movement, in Greece. The members, many of them graduates of theology, travelled around Greece preaching and teaching and were especially effective in assisting the church in the struggle against communism after the Second World War. More recently, in Russia, two priests, Father Vsevolod Schpiller, who died in 1992, and Father Vladimir Vorobiev, have done much to encourage education. After the fall of communism, their teaching enterprise has grown dramatically. It has grown into the St Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Institute, now designated as a Humanities University and accredited by the state education department. It has over 4000 students, ofwhom 1442 are full-time. There are thirteen regional centres, including one specifically for men in the army. Full-time students must be less than thirty-five years old and there are similar numbers of men and
16 The Philokalia, trans. G. E. H. Palmer, P. Sherrard and K.Ware, 4 vols. (London: Faber and Faber, 1979-95). The fifth and final volume is eagerly awaited.
17 The way of a pilgrim, trans. R. M. French (London: SPCK, 1954).
Was this article helpful?