These were the first books on Eastern Orthodoxy I had ever read, and it was through these books that I first learned the basics of Orthodox doctrine. The author, Father Thomas Hopko, was the Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in the United States, and was very well-known and well-regarded among Orthodox Christians in America and beyond.
Luckily for us in Malaysia, all these books are available online for free! The Orthodox Church in America hosts them on their website here.
This series contains four volumes: they cover doctrine, worship, church history, and spirituality. The books contain short, focused chapters on various topics in Orthodoxy. The typical chapter is only about a thousand words long.
The books are written for the reader who comes in with zero knowledge of Orthodox Christianity. The volumes all start off with very basic ideas, and they only get moderately more challenging at the end. The language style is very simple and clear.
Don’t expect this book to cover the nuances of dense theological topics in great depth (I don’t think that is possible to do in his 1000-word essay format!) but Hopko covers the essentials of the faith really well. I consider these books to be an ideal resource for someone who is curious about Eastern Orthodoxy but knows nothing about it. The short, to-the-point chapters make it very easy to digest, and Hopko skillfully explains complicated ideas in ways that are simple, yet accurate. Plus, the version available for free on the OCA’s website is very mobile-friendly. This is an essential series of books, a primer on Christianity by one of the most respected English-speaking Orthodox writers in our time.