Chrysostmos A Stamoulis, Holy Beauty : Prolegomena to an Orthodox Philokalic Aesthetics, translated by Norman Russell, James Clarke & Co Ltd, Cambridge, United Kingdom 2022.


The philosophical and theological study of aesthetics has a long and rich history, stretching back to Platos identification of ultimate goodness and beauty, together representing the eternal form. Recent trends in aesthetic theory, however, characterised by a focus on the beautiful at the expense of the good, have made it an object of suspicion in the Orthodox Church. In its place, Greek theologians have sought to emphasise philokalia as a truer theological discipline.

Seeking to reverse this trend, Chrysostomos Stamoulis brings into conversation a plethora of voices, from Church fathers to contemporary poets, and from a Marxist political theorist to a literary critic. Out of this dialogue, Stamoulis builds a model for the re-appropriation of Orthodoxys patristic and Byzantine past that is no longer defined in antithesis to the Western present. The openness he proposes allows us to perceive afresh the world shot through with divinity, if only we can lift our gaze to see it. Dismantling the false dichotomy, philokalia or aesthetics, is the first step.

Review quote

An important and very engaging book
that reads as a deep intellectual dialogue. Stamoulis has re-aligned the
philosophical and theological debate around aesthetics with a delightfully
fresh stance re-presenting Byzantine Orthodox traditions in a way that is
neither obscurantist or triumphalist but energised in a presentation that shows
the Christian ancients as significant heirs of Aristotle, and the moderns as
acute conversational partners with Marx.

Prof. John A. McGuckin, Faculty of
Theology, Oxford University

Stamoulis’ work is a window into an
Orthodox vision of philokalic aesthetics, in which beauty is tethered to
dogmatic theology. He also, however, welcomes non-Orthodox theologians to the
discussion table of ancient and modern voices. They, too, may pull up a chair
and glean from observations regarding a beauty which is united to truth and
goodness and is revealed in the grandeur of creation.

Paul A. Hartog, Professor of
Theology, Faith Baptist Seminary

Holy Beauty is a profound and
intricate presentation of a holistic Eastern Orthodox understanding of
aesthetics. Refusing false dialectics – aesthetics vs philokalia, East vs West
– this study critically searches in the Fathers of the Church to rediscover a
full picture of divine beauty, anchored in the goodness of creation, and
presents a fascinating survey of contemporary writers and artists who exemplify
how a theology of divine beauty may be expressed today. A precious gift to all.

Dr. Daniel Keating, Professor of
Theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit MI

Product details

  • Format Hardback | 260 pages
  • Dimensions 161 x 240 x 20mm | 9,929.14g
  • Publication date 25 Aug 2022
  • Publisher James Clarke & Co Ltd
  • Publication City/Country Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Language English
  • ISBN10 0227178130
  • ISBN13 9780227178133


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