In the Orthodox Christian tradition scholarship was central, as the Orthodox churches were heirs to the philosophical wisdom and insights of the greatest thinkers of antiquity. Indeed, in some Orthodox churches paintings will be found of philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, who are seen as forebears of Christian wisdom. Eastern theologians such as Saints Basil the Great (ca. 32979), Gregory of Nyssa (ca. 330-ca. 395), and Gregory Nazianzen (ca. 329-90) were highly versed in the philosophical and general knowledge of their time and brought Christianity into the wider world of thinking. Saint Basil is especially well known for his essay written to adolescents encouraging them to read the Greek classics, since Christians cannot afford to be unlettered. For another Eastern Christian theologian, Saint Maximos the Confessor (ca. 580-622), knowledge, not just moral discipline, was an important step in the Christian's progress in the spiritual life. In modern times we can again point to the example of the popular Russian priest Father Alexander Men (1935-90), who saw all human culture as a valuable witness to humanity's search for God, a search fulfilled in the divine-human person of Jesus Christ.
Was this article helpful?