The out-of-print first edition of Holy Mothers of Orthodoxy by Eva C. Topping was by its focus, publishing, and mode of distribution intentionally geared toward and limited chiefly to readership within the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is essential, however, for Christians of all denominations to be aware of and understand that the often ignored, marginalized and generally repressed aspects of Christian history brought into the light and forefront in Mrs. Topping's courageous pioneer work, updated and expanded by collaboration with and approval of the author in this online edition, is indeed common to all of mainline Christianity. That commonality rests in the fact that preceding the Great Schism that occurred in 1054 A.D. the mainline Christian Church was one and undivided. Our history until that point and its influence on all of Christianity continues from then to the present.
The cited services, hymns, customs, etc. particular to the Eastern Orthodox Church began in the infancy of the Christian Church undivided and are preserved by Orthodoxy until the present. Thus, even they have historical commonality with all mainline Christian churches. This is a history that holds amazing surprises, both positive and negative, and serves to illumine all Christians regarding the shared origins and profound effects of gender-based beliefs and practices throughout Christian time. Once known and understood thoroughly, they are clearly shown to be the "traditions of men (literally)" (Mark 7:8) that Christ strongly condemned, rather than the "precepts of God" (Mark 7:8) as they historically have been presented.
Though through an Eastern Orthodox perspective, Mrs. Topping is truly speaking to every Christian reader who seeks to know the fullness of the truth that Christ brought with perfect and equal love for all. Seekers are encouraged and invited to join together in the journey through this pioneering and courageous treasure trove that, by the grace of God, Mrs. Topping gave to us. "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). This journey is the bringing out of the shadows of ignorance, self-interest and pride, and into the light of their existence with scrutiny, the history of women in Christian history. Many of the reader's questions will be clearly answered by this very special book.
Note: Although the history brought forth in this book is common to all mainline Christian faith traditions, because it was written originally from the historical perspective of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which traces its history in a direct line from Pentecost until the present, certain terms, concepts and perspectives are defined briefly and clearly or, when necessary, explained in more depth for the benefit of all readers. It is essential that non-Orthodox readers consult the explanations provided on topics dealing with an Eastern Orthodox perspective in order to remove any obstacles posed simply by misunderstanding from a lack of knowledge and understanding of that perspective. It is important to remember that the Christian faith as understood by the Eastern Orthodox Church is from the beginning of Christianity itself and has not changed in more than 20 centuries. It is not the faith of the church, but the problem of praxis, which permeates all mainline Christian churches in some form and degree, that this work addresses.
The text of this website is the original text with explanatory popup notes and an added glossary of the book published in 1987. The original text is a complilation of articles by Ms. Topping written approximately the early to mid 80's. Thus, some of the articles have repetitive, overlapping material. No effort has been made to remove any these repetitions or "correct" any inconsistencies such as spellings or transliterations from Greek. This has been an effort to faithful to the original text. It was felt that editting the text, no matter how carefully done, could accidentally change the points Ms. Topping was making. If anyone finds any transcription errors please notify the webmaster at email address.
The chapter order follows the the original print edition. Downloadable copies are available on the Download page.
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