Research library Suttner

Ernst Christoph Suttner, Professor Emeritus of Patrology and Eastern Church Studies at the University of Vienna, has donated his extensive research library to the Institute for Ecumenical Studies. At the same time, the books are a testimony to the political upheavals in Europe, as he experienced and accompanied first-hand the developments of the Eastern Churches of the Eastern Churches after 1989.

Prof. Suttner describes his library as follows:

My library

Already in the 1950s, when the "Iron Curtain" divided Europe sharply and books from Russia were scarcely available in the West, I began to learn Russian as a student in Rome and became intensely interested in the Church and the cultural history of Russia. I also began to buy up what was available in antiquarian or (quite few) new editions.

In 1962 I undertook a dissertation on Aleksej Stepanovi? Chomjakov at the University of Würzburg. I had decided to deal with the theology and intellectual history of Russia. Again an intensive search for relevant literature began, and slowly my own library stock grew.

My investigations for my postdoctoral thesis in the years 1968-73, which I also prepared at the University of Würzburg, related to the post-reformatory cultural and church-historical developments in Eastern Central Europe, and I again had to deal intensively with Church Slavic and Russian influences in addition to much Greek cultural influence. Europe was still divided and visits to libraries in the countries I was interested in were difficult. So it became necessary once again to expand my own stock of books, because the stock of the Würzburg University Library was not sufficient for my work.

In autumn 1975 I was called to the University of Vienna to the Lahrkanzel for Patrology and Eastern Church Studies and to the head of the Institute for Theology and History of the Christian East.

For the time before the First World War, the libraries in Vienna were well stocked in terms of my area of responsibility, but not for the 20th century, because after 1918 Austria, which had become smaller, was no longer able to maintain the former standard of the Danube Monarchy, and as far as more recent times are concerned, the sharp border within Europe had already become more "permeable", but still had not fallen. In addition, the work at my institute should also refer beyond Europe to the Caucasian countries, to Arab Christianity, to the traditions of the so-called Syrian churches, to Ethiopia and to the Thomas Christians of India. The necessity for further purchase of literature was thus given.

New possibilities for the expansion of my library arose when in the 90s the tiresome sharp inner-European border no longer existed and one could recently undertake free studies in theology and cultural history in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The personal contacts I had with them over the decades meant that many new publications, especially from Russia, Romania and the Ukraine, found their way to me - those that had already attained a considerable scientific standard, and those that testified to the fact that after the end of the dictatorship, efforts were again being made to find one. What has accumulated in my bookshelves is something of a "testimony" to the last two or three decades.

So my private book collection, which initially focused on Russia, has experienced a considerable diversification, and I am keen that it should benefit an institute where it can be used. That is why I bequeathed it to the University of Fribourg.

Vienna, 19 July 2011

Ernst Christoph Suttner