I don’t normally post news on this blog, but I think that readers will understand that this is of particular interest to me. This morning I received an email from a blogging friend with the news that Father Gabriel Bunge had become Orthodox.
The only account that I’ve been able to find is that on the Moscow Patriarchate’s website, which recounts that:
On 27 August 2010, the eve of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk officiate at the All-Night Vigil at the church of the “Joy to All the Afflicted” Icon in Bolshaya Ordynka Street in Moscow.
Concelebrating were Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, a vicar of Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain (Patriarchate of Constantinople), president of the “The Friends of Mount Athos” charity society, clerics of the church, and a well-known Swiss theologian, hieromonk Gabriel (Bunge) who became an Orthodox before the divine service.
It appears that Father Gabriel is less well-known in the English-speaking world than he is in Europe. His book Earthen Vessels: The Practice of Personal Prayer According to the Patristic Tradition has been available for some time, but it is only recently that Dragon’s Wine and Angel’s Bread and Evagrius of Pontus, Talking Back: A Monastic Handbook for Combating Demons (Cistercian Studies Series) have been translated into English. (In fact I spent a lot of effort trying to convince a friend who has German to English translation skills to translate them, only to discover that they’d just been translated!) I have only browsed through them, mainly in French, but they are all books that I have been seriously intending to get hold of, read and blog on as Father Gabriel is clearly one of the most solid monastic scholars of our day. He was originally a monk of Chevetogne but has lived as a hermit in the Swiss mountains for the past thirty years.
I must confess that the news has moved me profoundly – a sort of “if somebody like that is doing it then I can’t be totally crazy!”, not that I really think I’m crazy, but it does help!
P.S. Father Gregory Wassen once translated one of Father Gabriel’s essays on Evagrius that can be found here.
An afterthought: If anyone is interested in knowing more about Father Gabriel and has access to back issues of Saint Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, there was a long review article on him some years ago (I’m afraid I can’t remember the details and don’t have access to it at the moment). I think that it was a review article of his Earthen Vessels, but it was also much more than that and gave both background information on his life and discussed his contribution to Evagrian scholarship.
Update to afterthought: Father Gregory Wassen has kindly left the details in a comment. The article I was thinking of is Augustine Casiday’s “Gabriel Bunge and the study of Evagrius Ponticus: Review article”. SVTQ 48 (2004): 249-98. (And with thanks to Dr Casiday for further details).