Review: The Filioque

The Filioque: History of a Doctrinal Controversy

Author: A. Edward Siecienski

Hardcover: 368 pages

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 978-0-19-537204-5

Oxford University Press


I have to admit, I was not too familiar with the filioque debate prior to reading this book.  Sure, I know what the filioque is and that there is much debate on its use in the Nicene Creed, but I never learned much more than that.  This book changed all that.

For those who aren’t familiar, the filioque refers to a Latin word in the Nicene Creed (as professed by the West) concerning the Holy Spirit’s procession.  The whole controversy revolves around whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father only (East) or through the Father and the Son (West).

The Good: This book is well researched.  There are some ninety pages of endnotes (1284 total)…’nuff said on that one.

I really liked Siecienski’s use of Patristic quotes though out the book.  It would have been sufficient (at least in my mind) to say what the church father’s believed in regards to the procession of the Holy Spirit.  In my opinion, Siecienski took it one step further by letting the church fathers speak for themselves through his book.  I found this to be extremely helpful to my understanding of Patristic Theology and of the controversy because I am not familiar with too many of the Greek Fathers and their theology.  I was exposed to the writings of church fathers I had never even heard of prior to reading this book as well as given a new insight into the theology of the church fathers I was familiar with.

The Bad: My one sole complaint about the book revolves around the use of endnotes.  I know that endnotes are usually cheaper than footnotes, but this is one book that would have greatly benefited from footnotes.  I found myself flipping between my current spot in the book and the back of the book to reference the notes.

The Ugly: None

This is my first book on the topic of the fiioque and I think it will be an excellent resource for those engaged in ecumenical talks with the Orthodox Church.  My own denomination, the ELCA, is in bilateral conversation with the Orthodox and the issue of the filioque has been addressed and continued conversation is needed between both parties as consensus was not reached.

I feel that Siecienski impartially described the controversy and faithfully laid out both sides of the argument in his book.  Anyone interested in the history of the Nicene Creed needs to read this book.


I received this book free from Oxford University Press. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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