Discerning the Signs of the Times: The Vision of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel
Michael Plekon and Sarah E. Hinlicky, Eds.; Lyn Breck, Michael Plekon, Deno Takles, and Rachel Mortimer, Trans.
Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001
Orthodoxy in Dialogue normally reviews books no more than two or three years old. Yet Discerning the Signs of the Times is such a treasure that it merits an exception and whatever renewed attention we can bring to it from a new generation of Orthodox readers.
The title, taken of course from Mt 16:3, reflects a recurring theme in the ten brief essays by Behr-Sigel (1907-2005) collected between the covers of this slim volume. Repeatedly she appeals for the recovery of a more authentic Orthodoxy, an Orthodoxy irreducible to ritualism, moralism, or nationalism, a truly catholic Orthodoxy, vibrant and alive, fully engaged in reading the signs of these times and these places in which God has placed the Church for our salvation and the salvation of the world.
I must begin, however, with a confession. When I submitted the proposed reading list for my upcoming comprehensive exam on modern Orthodox theology, one of my examiners objected: “There are no women theologians on your list!” He gave me three names to add, of which Behr-Sigel — “the grandmother of western Orthodoxy” — stands out indisputably as the most influential. My only regret (and here I am truly embarrassed) is that it has taken me forty-five years of reading and internalizing Orthodox theology to meet her at last. I have no idea why it has taken me so long. I’ve known her name since forever. Read More