CF104 Mysteries of Life and Death Selected Bibliography

Selected bibliography for Part 1:

Of Water and the Spirit, A Liturgical Study of Baptism, Alexander Schmemann. Originally published in 1976. Paperback— 170 pages (31 December, 1989) St Vladimir's Seminary Press; - (probably the best and most accessible commentary on the current Orthodox rite, written from Fr Alexander’s distinctive theological standpoint. It contains a very useful bibliography.)

Documents of the Baptismal Liturgy, E. C. Whitaker, SPCK (1970). Out of print, but can be found second hand, both hardback and paperback.- (an extremely useful collection of translations of many of the principal texts on Baptism from the first millennium from both east and west.)

The Awe-Inspiring Rites of Initiation, Edward Yarnold, St Paul Publications (1971). This has now been reissued by The Liturgical Press: Paperback (1994) The Liturgical Press; - (Sub-titled “Baptismal Homilies of the Fourth Century”, this contains translations of some the baptismal homilies of four of the Fathers of the late fourth century, Cyril of Jerusalem (for these see also the version from SVSP below), Ambrose of Milan, John Chrysostom and Theodore of Mopsuestia, together with the parts of the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus concerning Baptism. It includes an excellent introduction of some sixty pages and a good bibliography.)

The Church at Prayer. Volume 3: The Sacraments, ed A.G.Martimort, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville. Paperback — 331 pages (January 1988) - (this translation of the latest edition of the French Roman Catholic L’Eglise en Prière contains a good up to date summary of the evidence from the first six centuries with good bibliographies - mainly of French material - and notes.)

On the Christian Sacraments, St Cyril of Jerusalem. A translation of his five Mystagogical Instructions to the newly baptized (see above Fr Yarnold’s book). St Vladimir’s Seminary Press.

The Life in Christ, St Nikolas Cabasilas, (translated by Carmino J. Decatanzaro). Paperback — 229 pages (1 March, 1997) St Vladimir’s Seminary Press.

Selected bibliography for Part 2:

(1) The most extensive collection of services (according to Russian usage) is given in the "Great Book of Needs" (4 volumes) published by St Tikhon's Seminary Press. The translation is often less than satisfactory, and the usefulness is diminished by the inclusion of numerous explanations of the rubrics.

(2) A limited selection of services (again following Russian usage) is found in the Hapgood "Service Book". Again the translation often leaves something to be desired.

(3) A different selection can be found at These excellent translations are made from the Greek and are beautifully accurate, if sometimes rather literal.

Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World (various editions)

Philip Sherrard, Christianity: The Lineaments of the Sacred Tradition (esp. Chapter Eight)

Jospeh Allen, The Ministry of the Church (SVS)

Fr Alexander Elchaninov, Diary of a Russian Priest

C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (various editions)

Jessica Rose, Sharing Spaces (DLT 2002)

David Melling, ‘Suffering and Sanctification in Christianity’ in P. Kegan, Religion, Health and Suffering (London 1999)

A Calivas, ‘The Eucholigion: A Brief History’ in Agape and Diakonia (Holy Cross 1998)

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, Life after Death (Levadi, Greece, 1996)

Sergei Hackel, Pearl Of Great Price (SVS)

Constance Babington-Smith, Iulia de Beausobre (DLT 1983)

Iulia de Beausobre, Creative Suffering


Other contemporary general studies (not specifically Orthodox)

Harold Baumann, Living through Grief, 1999

Paul Binski, Medieval Death, 1996

John Bowker, The Meanings of Death (esp. Part I), CUP 1991

Martha Whitmore Hickman, Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief, 1994

Henri J. M. Nouwen, Beyond the Mirror: Reflections on Death and Life, 2001

Henri J. M. Nouwen, Here and Now: Living in the Spirit, 2002

Colin Murray Parkes, Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life, 1998

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, On Death and Dying, 1973

William Worden, Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy, 1991


Further reading on ‘issues of life and death’

John Breck, The sacred gift of life : Orthodox Christianity and Bioethics (SVS)

God with us: Critical Issues in Christian Life and Faith (SVS)

Tristam Engelhardt, The Foundations of Christian Bioethics. (Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger, 2000

On abortion, the debate is usefully summarized in: Paul Watson and David Attwood, Researching Embryonic Values - A Debate, E83 (Grove Books: Cambridge, 1991), 25pp. Michael Banner, who is Professor of Moral and Social Theology at King’s College, London, has a chapter inclining to the ‘hardline’ view which offers serious criticism of ‘gradualist’ positions: it is entitled ‘The practice of abortion: a critique’ in Michael Banner, Christian Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1999), pp. 86 - 135. 

Rick Simpson, Abortion: Choosing Who Lives, E126 (Grove Books: Cambridge, 2002), is particularly good on describing how the availability of abortion on demand in Britain has corrupted public attitudes.

Though it is a pro-abortion tract, the booklet Abortion in Law, History & Religion (Childbirth by Choice Trust: Toronto, Canada, revised 1995), 62 pp. is a useful and reasonably accurate guide to the history, law, and practice of abortion around the world.

On euthanasia, an outstandingly helpful booklet is: Margaret Whipp, Euthanasia - a Good Death? E117 (Grove Books: Cambridge, 2000), 24pp. See also its bibliography.