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Faith Issues / Re: Fowler's "Stages of Faith"
« Last post by vorgos on Yesterday at 11:02:21 PM »
In a multicultural/multi-faith enviroment like the United States where people are exposed to different views I don't think it is a bad list.

In fact some stages touch upon our own, Orthodox Spiritual Stages.

1 Slaves of God - A childish belief in a God because of fear.
2 Employees of God - We believe in God because we are promised something.
3 Lovers of God - We love Him whether we are healed or not. He is our Father.

Now, being at this perfected third stage does not cancel out the previous stages but we wisely use them at appropriate times when we have spiritual lapses and temporary regressions. It?s like applying the right medicine at the right time. There are times when you marshal the fear of hell for your own spiritual good and there are other times when you choose the image of God as an employer that rewards you for hard work
Faith Issues / Could you guys comment on an article I'm writing?
« Last post by RaphaCam on Yesterday at 10:44:58 PM »
It's on the Septuagint. There is nothing new, but I needed something complete and authoral for where I'll publish it (Linguistics & Conlangs online publication).

The Septuagint: a short history of Bible translation and canonicity

“ Come, and having gone down let us there confound their tongue, that they may not understand each the voice of his neighbour. And the Lord scattered them thence over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city and the tower. On this account its name was called Confusion, because there the Lord confounded the languages of all the earth, and thence the Lord scattered them upon the face of all the earth”
Genesis 11:7-9, Brenton’s English Translation of the Septuagint

If one opens their clean, leather-bound, King James Bible on their shelves, they may ask themselves: How do we know biblical text was supposed to be exactly like that? Where did they get their original texts? Although this question could be fair simply answered, we will go straight back to the Ancient Middle East, using this lead to build the article all along.

Although some historians will disagree with the Judeo-Christian tradition of dating the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch or Torah) back to Moses over three thousand years in the past, they still agree at least a small part of what is today the biblical text dates back to the times the Israelites were governing themselves, that is, before the Assyrian conquest by the late VIII century B.C.. A long tradition of writing Scripture down, though, is dated in the earliest to the Babylonian exile, with the oldest manuscripts having been found in partial forms as what is known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. This tradition would be eventually known as “Masorah”, which would name its keepers by the Early Middle Ages, long after the Hebrew language had completely ceased to be natively spoken, the “Masoretes”, their product known as the “Masoretic Text”. Long before those copyists were struggling to keep their Hebrew production on, though, Greek language was on the rise among exiled Jews, giving rise to a cultural phenomenon known as Hellenistic Judaism.

And this is where the Septuagint enters. An ancient legend says Pharaoh Ptolemy II, who reigned in the early III century B.C., chose six elders from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, placing each in a separate chamber, and asked them to translate the Torah to Greek. In that moment, God would have inspired each one of them, rendering the first five books of what would eventually be the whole Septuagint canon. Referring to a version in which seventy elders were called to do the job, Saint Augustine named it the Versio Septuaginta Interpretum (“version of the seventy interpreters”).

For the wide spread of Christianity among Greek speakers, the Septuagint was the one to be used by early Christians. Old Testament quotes in the New Testament (which is almost unanimously agreed to have been written originally in Greek) are clearly taken directly from the Septuagint, sometimes showing substantial differences from the Masoretic Text, as in the example below. It was used to devise the vast majority of early Bible translations and extensively quoted by early theologians.

 “he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living:”
(Isaiah 53:7,8, KJV)

“(…) he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken away from the earth: (…)”
(Isaiah 53:7,8, Brenton)

 “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.”
(Acts 8:32,33, KJV)

Besides language itself and those small changes here and there, there is a striking difference between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text: while our Hebrew version keeps 24 books, not only did the Septuagint split those into 39 for practical reasons, but it also has some entire new books. Those differences, which many modern deniers (as we will later see) see as additions and call apocryphal, are more generally known as deuterocanonical.

Along the next centuries of Christian history, there was not much attention to those differences. As Saint Jerome, in the late IV century, found a small part of those unsuitable and translated the rest into Latin, building the Vulgate, used as an authoritative version in the Roman Catholic West, Byzantines, for example, kept the Septuagint as they knew it, while some traditions, such as those in miaphysite Syria and Ethiopia, would build even longer canons.

A great canonical discussion would eventually arise in the Western world the XVI century, when the German theologian Martin Luther, holding on the reliability of the Masoretic Text, denied the divine inspiration of the deuterocanonical books, which did not show up there. This would lead to a strife ending with the definitive mainline Protestant denial of their authority, while the Roman Catholic Church would reaffirm their equal canonicity once for all in the Council of Trent. The Anglican Church, holding to a position similar to that Luther himself had once taken, would eventually hold them as of secondary authority.

Among modern translations, seldom will we find those taken from the Septuagint, unless we are talking about the deuterocanical books found in Roman Catholic, Anglican and some ecumenical versions. The centrality of the Septuagint in Eastern Orthodoxy, though, gives it a significant place for the translation of the Old Testament for the Orthodox, although some Orthodox translations, such as the widespread Russian-language Synodal Bible, are taken from the Masoretic Text. It has a small number of translations into the English language, such as that of Sir Lancelot Brenton, published in 1851 and used for this article, or the Orthodox Study Bible, devised for the Eastern Orthodox and resembling the New King James Version in many features.

For a matter of comparison, let us take a look on both King James and Brenton’s rendering for the Psalm 23 (which is numbered 22nd in the Septuagint).

“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”
(Psalms 23, KJV)

“A Psalm of David. The Lord tends me as a shepherd, and I shall want nothing.

In a place of green grass, there he has made me dwell: he has nourished me by the water of rest.

He has restored my soul: he has guided me into the paths of righteousness, for his name's sake.

Yea, even if I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid of evils: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, these have comforted me.

Thou has prepared a table before me in presence of them that afflict me: thou hast thoroughly anointed my head with oil; and thy cup cheers me like the best wine.

Thy mercy also shall follow me all the days of my life: and my dwelling shall be in the house of the Lord for a very long time.”

(Psalms 22, Brenton)

Other Topics / Re: An legend is a year older
« Last post by Salpy on Yesterday at 10:44:08 PM »
Many happy returns.   :)
A day after a gunman killed three people and injured 10 others during a bloody standoff at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, his motive remained unclear.

But a picture began to emerge of the alleged suspect, Robert Lewis Dear, as a seemingly troubled loner with a long but relatively minor criminal history, who had preferred living in places of extreme isolation and had relocated recently from the mountains of rural North Carolina to a desolate outpost 70 miles west of Colorado Springs.

More here.

Little is known about the shooter at this point. Some bloggers have been falsely claiming that he is transgender and identifies as a woman (even though though he has a full-length beard).

One of the victims was a police officer and assistant pastor at a local church.
Just like today, there were a number of early Christian groups. I don't think early gnostic Christians would be in an Orthodox Church today. What Orthodox does have, however, is continuity. There are unbroken lines of succession in episcopacy and in doctrine from the Apostles until now. Certainly not all early Christians held to what we believe now, but not all early Christians held to the teachings of the Apostles either. That is very clear in reading apostolic writings.
Other Topics / Re: Random Postings
« Last post by Minnesotan on Yesterday at 10:06:35 PM »
As an Egyptian, I wish to take the name Isis back!
You can have it.

Just keep reminding people about THIS show.
Oriental Orthodox Discussion / Re: Ethiopian Holy Synod in Exile
« Last post by kijabeboy03 on Yesterday at 10:03:51 PM »
And amen. I'm not a supporter of the Synod in Exile, but many good people are caught up in it. Praying for the healing of this and all the schisms :-(.

Alright. Thanks a bunch, Antonious.

No problem.

For the record, the Ethiopian priest who spoke at the Healing Chalcedon symposium in Toronto was also a member of the Synod in Exile.

That's not surprising at all.  Here's why:

1. The organizers of the conference are probably largely clueless when it comes to the internal politics of the Oriental Orthodox Communion.  Believe me, I've encountered more than my share of EO who are completely flummoxed when it comes to the schisms in the Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Malankara-Syriac Churches and aren't sure who they can invite to what and under what circumstances without offending the canonical parties.  They usually just invite the representatives of the closest churches, whatever jurisdictions they might belong to, or they invite someone they know who happens to be Ethiopian (or Eritrean, or Malayali) and erudite, without double-checking their affiliation.

2. The bishops and a select group of folks involved in ecumenical affairs aside, the Oriental Orthodox are also usually largely clueless about this stuff.  I'd be willing to bet that if you asked the non-Ethiopian OO representatives at this conference about the schism within the Ethiopian Church, they wouldn't know what the heck you were talking about.

3. A lot of the people on the "wrong sides" of these disputes are awesome people.  I know a few priests from the "Synod in Exile" personally and like Mina said, many of them just happen to have grown up on that side and wanted to serve in their church. 

Of course, others are politicians who sermonize more about "the Woyane" and Meles than they do about the Lord and His Apostles.

May God heal these schisms.  It is within His power, though it truly seems impossible for men.

In the meantime, now you know the rest of the story.  Anyone who tells you that any aspect of the Derg's disestablishment, despoiling, and manipulation of the Church was a good thing or that the Derg's collaborator bishops - elevated to replace men martyred for Christ by the Derg like H.H. Abune Theophilos I, who Mengistu's thugs strangled to death with an electrical cord and buried face down in a shallow grave - were ever recognized as legitimate by the broader Oriental Orthodox Communion either doesn't know what they're talking about or is a straight up liar.
Oriental Orthodox Discussion / Re: Ethiopian Holy Synod in Exile
« Last post by kijabeboy03 on Yesterday at 10:01:52 PM »
I'm not sure you quite grasp the present relationship between the Ethiopian state and the Church. The current government is certainly much less heavy-handed than the Derg, but they are in charge. I grew up under the current government, the Church isn't free and the last two patriarchs were appointed at the government's directions. We were all rather surprised when they put a second Tigrayan (Abune Matiyas) on the patriarchal throne - no one thought the EPRDF would be so obvious about it, especially after letting a southerner stay on as the figurehead prime minister after Ato Meles' death.

And yes, despite not being recognized by the Coptic Orthodox Church, Abune Tekle Haimanot was a saint. Mengistu thought he would be an ignorant peasant, and instead he lived in asceticism and inspired the faithful suffering persecution. He may not have been recognized as patriarch, but hopefully he will be glorified someday.

Who are they?

Here is the story in a nutshell:

The Ethiopian Monarchy and the national (Orthodox) Church were overthrown by a military dictator named Mengistu Haile Maryam and a Marxist junta called the Derg.  This regime slaughtered thousands of nobles and churchmen, including the Emperor Haile Selassie I and the Patriarch H.H. Abune Theophilos.

The Derg disestablished the national Church, seized all of its lands, assets, and wealth, and fostered the growth of Islam and Pentecostal sects in order to weaken the Church's hold on the people.  Most of the leading bishops and priests in the country were liquidated or forced into monastic retirement.

Mengistu wanted a pliant patriarch he could manipulate, and brought a holy hermit named Abune Teklahaimanot to the Patriarchal Throne while Abune Theophilos was still alive in prison.  The Oriental Orthodox communion refused to recognize Abune Teklahaimanot as legitimate.  Ironically, Abune Teklahaimnot proved to be less cooperative than Mengistu imagined and openly confronted him when he carpet-bombed civilians, killed and imprisoned other churchmen, and committed other horrific crimes.  Mengistu then had Abune Teklahaimanot poisoned.

Mengistu then ordered the rump of the Synod (composed of collaborators like Abune Zena Markos and Abune Melchizedek) to put another collaborator - Abune Merkorios - on the Throne.  Abune Merkorios was a convinced communist who had close relationships with regional governors with much innocent blood on their hands.

When the Derg was overthrown, there were mass demonstrations in the streets calling for Abune Merkorios to step down.  He did, citing health issues and stress.  Abune Zena Markos then made a power play for the Throne, but this was defeated because the bishops the liberated Synod brought back from exile, imprisonment, and forced retirement weren't having it.  Abune Paulos, a prisoner of the Derg who had suffered for the Church, was elected instead.  Abune Merkorios later fled to the USA, as did Abune Zena Markos and Abune Melchizedek, where they formed an absolutely illegitimate body called the "Synod in Exile" that has never been recognized by any of the other Oriental Orthodox Churches, who all recognize the only legitimate Patriarch, which is presently Abune Mathias.  At first, Abune Zena Markos and Abune Melchizedek were not proponents of returning Abune Merkorios to the Throne.  Rather, they wanted Abuune Zena Markos on the Throne.  Once they realized that wasn't going to happen, they belatedly took up Abune Merkorios' cause and began using him as a figurehead for their machinations abroad.

Abune Merkorios is a puppet of those who surround him, chiefly Abune Melchezedek (now that Abune Zena Markos has reposed).  He wanted to step down a long time ago and return to Ethiopia and retire to a monastery (he is in ill health) but his handlers won't allow that because they are opponents of the present government.  Pray for him.

but I'm wondering how much they are recognised by the Oriental Orthodox communion.

Not at all. No canonical Oriental Orthodox body is in communion with them.  They were excommunicated and their bishops defrocked by the legitimate Holy Synod in Addis after consecrating new bishops here and perpetuating the schism, and all of the other Oriental Orthodox bodies have recognized this excommunication and refused to deal with them.

After the Derg collapsed, when Abune Merkorios was deposed and replaced with Paulos, his partisans insisted he was the only legitimate patriarch and formed the synod in exile. He is not recognized as the Ethiopian patriarch by other OO churches as far as I know. I doubt this has much effect "on the ground" in terms of what you'll see at an Ethiopian liturgy.

Your assessment is correct.  They are Orthodox in faith and practice, but non-canonical and not in communion with any other Oriental Orthodox Church.

I would be curious to know what the Synod in Exile's relationship is with the other Oriental Orthodox Churches to be honest.

They are not in communion with any canonical Oriental Orthodox body, all of which recognize the canonical church.

(Their Bishop of Seattle has warm relations with the Vashon Monastery under the ROCOR, although not intercommunion I'm sure due to the ROCOR's fundamentalism.)

Or maybe its the fact that the EO and OO are not in communion in general yet.

The schism is an internal issue within the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Which can be traced directly back to the Derg's disestablishment of the national Church and the liquidation of its leading clergy.

The last Communist (Derg)-appointed patriarch (Abune Merqoriyos) was forced out by the current Communists (the EPRDF) in power and replaced by their own appointee.

Abune Merkorios was never recognized by any other Patriarch or Synod in the Oriental Orthodox Communion.  All of them recognized Abune Paulos, who was elected by a reconstituted synod including those bishops exiled or forced into retirement by the Derg.

Abune Merqoriyos accepted the situation until he was able to get out of the country, and then formed his own synod, which is a mix of pre-EPRDF bishops and newly consecrated bishops for the Diaspora.

Actually, he stepped down on his own citing ill health, nervous about the demonstrations in the streets calling for his ouster and the fact that he could be linked concretely and directly to regional governors who massacred civilians, and it could be substantiated that he had knowledge of such and still cooperated with them.

As far as I know the EPRDF hasn't let them set foot in the country, so the Synod in Exile exists only in the Ethiopian Diaspora.

Please don't make it out as if the so-called "Synod in Exile" is some heroic and legitimate resistance movement standing up to an oppressive government and a puppet Synod.  That's not at all the case.  The present government in Ethiopia isn't perfect, but they're not hostile to the Church as the Derg was, and the Synod is not composed entirely of collaborators, as was the case in the time of the Derg.

Also, let's be very clear that the "Synod in Exile" churches exist only in the diaspora not because the government forbids them, but because they majority of the people  in Ethiopia don't support them and never supported them.  Also, let's be very clear that the "Synod in Exile" churches are in the minority even in the diaspora, with the majority of the churches there belonging to the canonical Synod or identifying as "neutral" and commemorating no Patriarch at all.

I do know, however, that laypeople - even fairly prominent ones - go back and forth from Ethiopia without any issues communing there. Hopefully the issue will get resolved soon, but I doubt it'll happen till there are political reforms in Ethiopia or Abune Merqoriyos' reposes...

The latter is the only possibility, and even that's a stretch, since those who have created positions of power for themselves in exile (who are in fact laymen who have been defrocked by the legitimate Synod) would never accept the present legitimate Patriarch Abune Mathias.

So bottom line, Regnare, they are viewed as completely illegitimate by the entire Oriental Orthodox Communion.
Other Topics / Re: Random Postings
« Last post by nothing on Yesterday at 09:58:01 PM »

Best: Egg Nog

Worst: Christmas music.
Other Topics / Re: An legend is a year older
« Last post by TheTrisagion on Yesterday at 09:42:36 PM »
Happy fasting birthday, TheTrisagion.  I hope you have prayer, no fun, and some birthday fish.
Well, I got one of the three. I was at my in-laws.
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