Neither Will I Tell You… by Metropolitan Nahum of Strumica
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this volume, Metropolitan Nahum of Strumica uses the three states of the spiritual life as an interpretive lens on scripture. As the spiritual Father of a monastic community, Metropolitan Nahum addresses these homilies to monks. The reader needs to keep this in mind while reading, as exegesis, explanation, and exhortation meant for monks is not always generally applicable to those of us ‘in the world’, so to speak.
Metropolitan Nahum lays out the three stages of the spiritual life as follows: the purification of the heart; the illumination of the mind; and deification. He uses these three stages in a variety of ways, including applying them to the three orders of the clergy. One who has mastered deification is ready to be ordained as a deacon; one who has mastered illumination is ready to be ordained as a presbyter; and one who has attained deification is ready to be ordained as a bishop. He also points out that the three stages of the spiritual life are ‘determined solely by the quality of prayer’.
Metropolitan Nahum provides a wonderful service with his description of three different methods of interpreting Scripture: the Alexandrian school, which uses parables and allegory; the Antiochian school, which uses history and ethics; and what he calls the ‘Hagiorite-Macedonian School’, which focuses on the systematization and harmony of Orthodox spiritual life.
Metropolitan Nahum of Stumica is part of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, which is out of communion with the rest of the Orthodox Church. The reasons for this are primarily political; when the Macedonian government inserted itself into the discussions between the Macedonian and the Serbian Orthodox Churches, the Macedonian Orthodox Church broke off discussions. Apparently this was done to keep the church free from political and nationalistic machinations. I say this neither to condemn nor absolve, but merely to provide context for those who might otherwise question the wisdom of reading this book.