Between Heaven and Earth:
The Greek Church
John L. Tomkinson
When emissaries returned to Kiev from Constantinople, where they had attended divine worship in the church of Ayia Sophia, they reported to Prince Vladimir 'We did not know whether we were in heaven or on earth, for assuredly such beauty cannot be found on earth anywhere else...' This verdict on the Greek Church and its worship has been echoed by many down the centuries.
Between Heaven and Earth: The Greek Church is introduction to a Church as old as Christianity itself in two parts. In the first, its buildings and their furnishings, services, customs, festivals, faith, government and constituent institutions are described. But since nothing can properly be understood without some knowledge of its past, the second part contains a brief history of the Church, from its apostolic beginnings to the problems it faces in the contemporary age.
From the picturesque ceremony of crowning the bride and groom at their wedding, to the interpretation of the symbolism of icons, to the unique monastic republic where all women are forbidden to set foot, this book provides the visitor with the means to make a holiday to Greece more interesting, and the Westerner with an absorbing introduction to a Church many have believed for almost twenty centuries truly to be a foretaste of heaven on earth.
'Tomkinson's book explains this highly mystic, ritualistic and richly ornate form of Christianity to those who want to know (but were afraid to ask). This book is especially useful for those who are about to experience one of the Greek Church's Holy Mysteries - are about to get married, baptise a child, etc., and want to actually understand the ceremony. Tomkinson gives you enough information without getting too academic or detailed in the process... This very readable publication aims to get the westerner to appreciate the beauty of the Greek Orthodox Church, and to understand a lot more when visiting the many churches and monasteries around Greece.' Athens News