An Orthodox Journal of Cross-Cultural Theology, Dialogue and Mission

Stephen C. Headley, The Hidden Ear of God: A Comparative Anthropology of Prayer in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism

Review by Dr Dionysios Skliris
DOI: 10.57577/1-22A24
Salt: Crossroads of Religion and Culture: 1 (2022): 336-339
Keywords: Anthropology, prayer, religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism

In his ground-breaking work, Fr Stephen Headley tries to combine the methodologies of anthropology and theology, having served both as an anthropologist in central Java, India, Russia and Greece, and as a parish priest and professor of Christian Anthropology in Paris. The title of the book comes from Saint Ephrem the Syrian (306-373ad) who spoke in his twentieth Hymn on Faith about God’s “hidden ear” listening to the prayers of humanity. Fr Headley is convinced that a totally secular approach to prayer is bound to fail, since it will totally lack experience and empathy and will only offer a superficial account of the event of prayer. Fr Headley’s point of departure is thus a Christian anthropology of prayer, while at the same time trying to respect the particularities of each religion.