1st Edition

Petre Tutea Between Sacrifice and Suicide

By Alexandru Popescu Copyright 2004
    365 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Petre Tutea (1902-91) was one of the outstanding Christian dissident intellectuals of the Communist era in Eastern Europe.  Revered as a saint by some, he spent thirteen years as a prisoner of conscience and twenty-eight years under house arrest at the hands of the Securitate.  This book explores his unique response to the horrors of torture and 're-education' and reveals the experience of a whole generation detained in the political prisons. Tutea’s understanding of human needs and how they can be fulfilled even amidst extreme adversity not only reflects huge learning and great brilliance of mind, but also offers a spiritual vision grounded in personal experience of the Romanian Gulag.  Following the fall of the Ceausescus, he has begun to emerge as a significant contributor to ecumenical Christian discourse and to understanding of wider issues of truth and reconciliation in the contemporary world.   As Tutea's pupil and scribe for twelve years, as a psychiatrist, and as a theologian, Alexandru Popescu is uniquely placed to present the work of this twentieth-century Confessor of the faith.  Drawing on bibliographical sources which include unpublished or censored manuscripts and personal conversations with Tutea and with other prisoners of conscience in Romania, Popescu presents extensive translations of Tutea, which make his thought accessible to the English-speaking reader for the first time.   Through his stature as a human being and his authority as a thinker, Petre Tutea challenges us to question many of our assumptions. The choice he presents between ’sacrifice’ and ’moral suicide’ focuses us on the very essence of religion and human personhood. Resisting any ultimate separation of theology and spirituality, his work affirms hope and love as the sole ground upon which truth can be based. At the same time, hope and love are not mere ideal emotions, but are known and lived in engagement with the real world - in politics, economics, science, ecol

    Contents: Foreword; Preface; Introduction; Biography and intellectual formation; From philosophy to Christian commitment; Re-education and unmasking; Anagogic typology; Christian anthropology; Sensing the mystery; Theatre as seminar; Masks; Philosophy of nuances; Conclusions; Envoi; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.


    Alexandru Popescu is a writer and psychiatrist, currently living in Oxford.

    'It is splendid that this work is being published. It presents an enormous contribution to East-West understanding: the Romanian perspective has a specially important part to play. A very admirable work.' Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury 'This remarkable study of the philosopher Petre Tutea describes matters fundamental to Eastern Orthodox theology through the medium of an enthralling (often appalling) story of a man’s resistance to totalitarian brutality and oppression. Tutea found that the renewal of his Christian faith saved his identity, even as dark forces were attempting to rob it from him. Never has there been a more pressing need to find a capacious and religiously grounded philosophy of freedom for an emerging ’new europe’ squeezed between the Scylla of redundant totalitarianisms in the East, and the equally oppressive Charybdis of the global consumerisms of the West. Alex Popescu leads the reader through harrowing pages, to an underlying sense that Orthodoxy, a message re-pristinated in Tutea, speaks to the  human soul in its existential needs, by constantly offering the challenge to rise into freedom; to become the divinely graced self'.' Revd Dr John A. McGuckin, Professor of Early Church History, Union Theological Seminary, and Professor of Byzantine Christianity, Columbia University, USA 'Tutea ranks alongside Bonhoeffer in articulating the philosophy of Christian endurance. I have cherished the hope that an English publisher may publish this work.' Oliver O'Donovan, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, Christ Church, Oxford 'A truly epoch-making book. I don't recollect ever having recommended a book more strongly for publication. Popescu puts the Romanian Orthodox Church centre stage and brings an element into focus which is hardly known to anyone outside his own country. Tutea is a figure of seminal importance, and one of the great figures of the universal Church of the twentieth century. This book provides a perspective