Thomas Mark Németh. Josef von Zhishman (1820-1894) und die Orthodoxie in der Donaumonarchie. Kirche und Recht 27. Freistadt: Plöchl, 2012, 402 pages.

Thomas Mark Németh has written a study of Josef von Zhishman (1820-1894) and his relationship with Eastern Orthodoxy in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although Zhishman was not Orthodox himself (but an Ultramontane newspaper once accused him of this) he stood in the center of the history of Eastern Orthodoxy in the nineteenth century. He was the first professor of Eastern canon law at the University of Vienna. The tradition of the academic study of Eastern canon law begun by Zhishman continues to this day; for example, in the work of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches. Zhishmans’ study on the marriage law of the Eastern Church, Das Eherecht der orientalischen Kirche (1864), is still today unsurpassed in many ways and continues to be published in Modern Greek translation. Zhishman also supported the career and work of Nikodim Milaš (1845-1915), the most influential modern Eastern Orthodox canonist who was recently locally canonized by the eparchy of Dalmatia in Serbian Orthodox Church. The works of Milaš and Zhishman are still more or less required readings in the academic study of Eastern Orthodox canon law.

Zhishman was also the primary adviser on the Eastern Orthodox Churches to the Ministry for Religious Affairs and Education. In this capacity he influenced the organization of the Eastern Orthodox Church in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (e.g., the appointment of bishops) and the organization of higher Eastern Orthodox theological education. The Austrian Empire had since the end of the seventeenth century a recognized Eastern Orthodox minority and towards its end the Austro-Hungarian Empire had three Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical provinces: (1) the metropolitan eparchy of Karlowitz with Szentendre, Pakrác, Plaski, Neusatz, Temesvár, and Werschetz as suffragan eparchies; (2) the metropolitan eparchy of Hermannstadt with Karásebes and Arad as suffragan eparchies; and (3) the metropolitan eparchy of Czernowitz with Zara and Cattaro (both in the geographically distant Dalmatia) as suffragan eparchies. Most of the Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical structure of the Austro-Hungarian Empire has today been incorporated into the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Zhishman was also very active in the foundation of the Department of Theology at the University of Czernowitz which was incorporated into the Department of Theology at Bucharest University in 1948.

Németh’s study of Zhishman is well-researched and uses previously neglected archival material and the subject makes for an interesting read. Németh’s study is not only an important contribution to the history of the study of Eastern Orthodox canon law and Eastern Orthodoxy in the Austo-Hungarian Empire, but also to the history of the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

The study can be ordered from:

Institut für Rechtsphilosophie, Religions- und Kulturrecht
Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät der Universität Wien
Schenkenstraße 8-10, 1010 Wien, Tel. 0043-1-4277-35814, Fax. 0043-1-4277-35899