Between pacifism and just war: Oikonomia and Eastern Orthodox political theology

Vassilios Paipais*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Scholars have often focused on the doctrinal and canonical reasons for the lack of a just war tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The consensus seems to be that the Eastern Orthodox Church, for historical as well as theological reasons, has never developed a doctrine for the justification or the containment of war but was rather orientated to the question of peace (albeit without being pacifist) and the theological imperative of deification. There is, however, another reason why just war concerns never found fertile ground in Eastern Orthodoxy. Byzantine political theology carried an anarchistic theocratic dynamic that remained in tension with any effort to sanctify the Empire or its martyrs. Such a perspective has more in common (without being identical) with conceptualisations of just peace or just war as a tradition of ethical restraint on war rather than as a doctrine for the moral justification or legitimation of war.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalStudies in Christian Ethics
Early online date25 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 May 2024


  • Eastern Orthodoxy
  • Oikonomia
  • Trinitarianism
  • Byzantine political ideology
  • Theocracy


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