Zizioulas, Jean, and Paul McPartlan. Communion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church. New York: T & T Clark, 2006.
John Zizioulas (Greek: Ιωάννης Ζηζιούλας; born 10 January 1931, Kozani) is the Eastern Orthodox metropolitan of Pergamon. He is the Chairman of the Academy of Athens and a noted theologian.
My Thoughts on Communion and Otherness
I will be brief and to the point in this reflection. There is one thing that I glean from this book that is very beneficial for my research and the missional conversation. There is also one thing that I struggle with. The piece that I glean from Zizioulas is his definition of personhood. He moves away from the classical obsession with substantivist ideas about human ontology and defines personhood as relational ontology. The uniqueness of the individual person is not found in the substance of the individuum that possesses certain classifiable universal categories. Rather, the uniqueness of the individual is constituted by the relationship with the other. The person is other to the other first, and thus, by standing in contrast to the other, is differentiated as unique. Left to the individual self-as-substance, the self is isolated, in Hell, and ceases to exist. Personhood, therefore, is relationality. This is evident in the Trinitarian Personhood of God. God is not unified substance that possesses three modes of being. God is three persons-in-relationship. The church, and all of creation, is thus constituted in relationality, and the ministry of Jesus, the personhood of Son, is to reconcile all things into relationality by demonstrating the incapacity to be self-sufficient through death, and bringing all things into communion through the capacity of life-in-relation to God through resurrection.