Vladimir Lossky

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Vladimir Lossky

Vladimir N. Lossky was an influential theologian of the Russian emigration. He was born in 1903, then exiled from Russia in 1922. He moved to Paris two years later and remained there until his death in 1958. He served as the first dean of the St. Denys Institute in Paris, where he also taught dogmatic theology. Lossky is remembered best for his book, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church.

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Biography

Vladimir was born on May 26, 1903, to the family of Nicolas Onufriyevich Lossky, who was a philosopher and professor in the University of St. Petersburg. After Vladimir begun his studies at the University of St. Petersburg, however, Nicolas was expelled from Russia with his entire family in November 1922. Vladimir was forced to continue his studies in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and then at the Sorbone in Paris, where his family stayed. His interests lay in Greek Patristics and in Western medieval philosophy.

He became the first dean of St. Denys Theological Institute, Paris, and taught Dogmatic Theology. He remained here until his sudden death on February 7, 1958, at the age of 54.

Vladimir Lossky, aside from being the Dean of St. Denys, is best remembered for his book The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, the first patristic synthesis of theology of dogma and is widely recognised within the Orthodox Church.

Criticism

Though with the best of intent to present pure Orthodox patristic beliefs, Lossky's works have been criticised for their shortcomings in this regard, both in his terminology and in a distinction regarding salvific work.

Lossky attempted to explain Orthodox theology through the contemporary terminology of existentialism; but, in doing so, he confused the patristic distinction between person (prosopon) and essence (ousia/ουσια) and applied this to anthropology.

The second criticism, a shortcoming most likely arising from Fr Pavel Florensky's controversial work Stolp i utverzdenie isteny, was a new distinction between the salvation by the work of the Son and the work of the Holy Spirit.

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