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Poll
Question: The Word of God is:
The Holy Bible - 0 (0%)
Jesus Christ - 22 (68.8%)
Both of the Above - 10 (31.3%)
Total Voters: 32

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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« on: November 30, 2009, 01:09:37 AM »

I wanted to post this poll and get some opinions about how people define the phrase "The Word of God." Protestants almost universally consider this term to be a reference to the Bible, but it seems that Orthodoxy may have a different understanding of this phrase.

It would be helpful if opinions could be supported by biblical reference and/or Church Teaching.

I look forward to your answers.

Thanks.

Selam
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2009, 01:15:40 AM »

Since becoming Orthodox, I call the Bible "The Bible" or "Scripture".  "The Word Of God", IME, is the Logos- Jesus the Christ.
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2009, 01:17:00 AM »

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father."  - John 1:1, 14 (RSV)
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2009, 01:17:13 AM »

The Word of God is Jesus Christ.  The Holy Scriptures are the Holy Scriptures.
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2009, 03:40:33 AM »

Yes, in Orthodoxy, the Word of God is a person, Jesus Christ.  The Bible is the record of the Word of God.
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2009, 03:49:48 AM »

I call Holy Scriptures the written word of God ,how else does one recieve faith but by reading and hearing ....Слава Богу...... Glory to God....
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2009, 09:11:33 AM »

I had the same impression too. The Holy Scripture is God's Word writen down on some paper and that's it.
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2009, 11:14:26 AM »

I think someone else on this forum recently called the Scriptures the icon par excellence of Christ the Word.  I like that description.
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2009, 05:56:40 PM »

In both the OT and the NT, the Word of God (debar Jahweh or λόγος Θεού) has many meanings.

In the OT, debar Jahweh often involves the actual, physical voicing of God's message. The Word of God is not something that is written down or studied, but something that is spoken, heard and responded to. After all, we are talking about a largely oral culture, especially in the OT's case.

In prophetic settings, for example, the person is inspired by the Spirit of God and then either uses their mouth/tongue to speak the word of God (e.g. 2 Sam 23, Num 24), or they hear a voice that is the word of God (e.g. 1 Sam 3, Jeremiah 1:11, Amos 8:2). In these cases, dabar is something that is very dynamic, intimate, personal, i.e. founded on the unique relationship of God's Spirit to a particular person. This person's word conveys the Word of God, which is experienced as truth by the hearer.

As Mediterranean culture became more literary, the understanding of the "word" changed. Thus, in Hellenistic times, there are sources that speak of the actual corpus of inspired writings as the "word". For example, the NT refers to the Septuagint as as a human word (λόγοι Ήσαΐου, Jn 13.38, Lk 3.4) and also the word of God (λόγος Θεού, Mk 7.13; Jn 10.35; 2 Pet 3.5-7). Even in the NT, though, there is still a heavy emphasis on how the Word of God must be vocally proclaimed, heard and responded to. Proclaiming the Word of God includes reading aloud the writings of the Septuagint, but, even more than that, preaching the Gospel of Christ.

As others mentioned, St. John's Gospel goes to great lengths to explain how Jesus himself -- his very person -- is THE Word of God, something which St. Ignatius picks up on in Magnesians 8.2. From then on out, most Christians regularly speak of Jesus as the λόγος. By the time of the great fourth century fathers, it was more common to call Jesus the λόγος than it was to call him Jesus. Just think of the title of St. Athanasius' famous tome. It's On the Incarnation of the Word -- not On the Incarnation of Jesus.
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2009, 10:24:24 PM »

I have gotten wary of calling the Scriptures "The Word" or "The Word of God", because some Evangelicals apply the first passage of John's Gospel and apply it to the Scriptures, and really seem to make the Scriptures a member of the Trinity.  I remember one poster on a Christian board even posting "Bible=Jesus".  I was Bapitst for 25 years, and I was always taught that this passage applied to Christ.  I have noticed this happening a lot in the last 5 years or so.  For that reason, I tend to refer to the Scriptures by that term rather than the ones above for that reason.  If I am among Orthodox or more liturgical churches that actually teach doctrine, I might call the Scriptures "The Word".
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2009, 11:47:01 PM »

I find this thread interesting. I always assumed the Bible was the Word of God-both OT and NT: like the 10 commandments in the OT,  and then Jesus in the NT. Learning every day........ Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2009, 01:45:28 AM »

I have gotten wary of calling the Scriptures "The Word" or "The Word of God", because some Evangelicals apply the first passage of John's Gospel and apply it to the Scriptures, and really seem to make the Scriptures a member of the Trinity.  I remember one poster on a Christian board even posting "Bible=Jesus".  I was Bapitst for 25 years, and I was always taught that this passage applied to Christ.  I have noticed this happening a lot in the last 5 years or so.  For that reason, I tend to refer to the Scriptures by that term rather than the ones above for that reason.  If I am among Orthodox or more liturgical churches that actually teach doctrine, I might call the Scriptures "The Word".

It's funny you mention that:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13091.0.html
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« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2009, 04:17:09 AM »

I voted "Both." Must be my Protestant upbringing.
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« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2009, 06:08:13 PM »

My first visit to an Orthodox church was in 2000, and I have never been back to an Evangelical church, but I never saw what I am seeing now among some Evangelicals.  I've really noticed people not seeming to understand the difference between Christ and the Scriptures in the last 5 years or so.  They take passages that apply to Christ and apply them to the Scriptures and get really angry when you try to tell them that Christ is a person and not a book.  The Scriptures are not the Son of God who was incarnate, lived a sinless life, healed the sick, died on the Cross and was resurrected. 
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« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2009, 08:02:19 PM »

I say 'both'.

Of course, I don't think the Scriptures are in any sense some literal representation of God the Word, and find it hard to believe that anyone could believe so--is there any chance of us seeing some evidence in this thread of the claims being made? I'm not presenting a challenge here, I just honestly find it very hard to believe that anyone could think the Scriptures to be some sort of inanimate, textual "incarnation" of Christ and wonder if perhaps those who infer such are misunderstanding the relevant person(s).

I note that in the thread Mina linked us to, I had provided a rather insightful quote from a Protestant scholar on the matter:

Just came across this during the course of my research for a final essay:

Dr. Robert W. Wall:

Quote
[V]arious biblical writings, picked up time and again, preserved and then canonized by the faith community, were brought together in their final form to function in two formative ways: first, as a rule whose teaching regulates the church's theological understanding; and, second, as a sacrament whose use mediates God's salvific grace to those who actually use Scripture. Even as the Word made flesh was "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14), so now....the word made text mediates the grace and truth of the Son to those who seek him in faith.

'The Significance of a Canonical Perpsective of the Church's Scripture', in The Canon Debate, ed. L.M. McDonald & J.A. Sanders (Massachusetts: 2002, Hendrickson Publishers), 528.

I should note what the language used by Dr. Wall already implies, viz., that Dr. Wall is not here trying to elucidate his own personal viewpoint or that of his own faith comunity, but is rather speaking of the early Church's conception of the Scriptures.

I have no qualms about referring to the Scriptures as the word(s) of God on account of the above-quoted understanding of the Scriptures, if not quite simply for the fact that the Church Fathers themselves had no qualms about referring to the Scriptures as the word(s) of God.

An interesting incident of Church History to note is the placing of the Holy Gospel (fourfold Gospel) on the senior chair at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus 431 to represent the presidency of God the Word.
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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2009, 09:35:23 PM »

I say 'both'.

Of course, I don't think the Scriptures are in any sense some literal representation of God the Word, and find it hard to believe that anyone could believe so--is there any chance of us seeing some evidence in this thread of the claims being made? I'm not presenting a challenge here, I just honestly find it very hard to believe that anyone could think the Scriptures to be some sort of inanimate, textual "incarnation" of Christ and wonder if perhaps those who infer such are misunderstanding the relevant person(s).

I note that in the thread Mina linked us to, I had provided a rather insightful quote from a Protestant scholar on the matter:

Just came across this during the course of my research for a final essay:

Dr. Robert W. Wall:

Quote
[V]arious biblical writings, picked up time and again, preserved and then canonized by the faith community, were brought together in their final form to function in two formative ways: first, as a rule whose teaching regulates the church's theological understanding; and, second, as a sacrament whose use mediates God's salvific grace to those who actually use Scripture. Even as the Word made flesh was "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14), so now....the word made text mediates the grace and truth of the Son to those who seek him in faith.

'The Significance of a Canonical Perpsective of the Church's Scripture', in The Canon Debate, ed. L.M. McDonald & J.A. Sanders (Massachusetts: 2002, Hendrickson Publishers), 528.

I should note what the language used by Dr. Wall already implies, viz., that Dr. Wall is not here trying to elucidate his own personal viewpoint or that of his own faith comunity, but is rather speaking of the early Church's conception of the Scriptures.

I have no qualms about referring to the Scriptures as the word(s) of God on account of the above-quoted understanding of the Scriptures, if not quite simply for the fact that the Church Fathers themselves had no qualms about referring to the Scriptures as the word(s) of God.

An interesting incident of Church History to note is the placing of the Holy Gospel (fourfold Gospel) on the senior chair at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus 431 to represent the presidency of God the Word.

Thank you brother. That is an excellent and informative answer. Perhaps in our zeal to condemn Protestantism, we unfairly attack their reference to the Bible as the "Word of God."

I do think it is important that we clarify and distinguish those passages and verses that refer to Christ as "the Word" from those which clearly refer to the Scriptures. For example, Hebrews 4:12 is commonly misinterpreted by Protestants as a reference to Scripture, when it obviously is speaking of Christ: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, joint and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And their is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." But in Acts 13:49 "the word" is clearly a reference to the Gospel message: "And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout the region."

What also may add to the confusion is the fact that the same Greek word is used in both verses. Context is everything. And although Evangelical Bible scholars often emphasize interpreting the Bible in its proper context, they fail to recognize that outside of the true Church, proper Biblical contextualization is an impossibility.

Selam
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« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2009, 09:59:55 PM »

Gebre,

You might find this article on Holy Scripture In The Orthodox Church interesting. http://www.serfes.org/orthodox/scripturesinthechurch.htm
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« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2009, 11:15:51 PM »

Gebre,

You might find this article on Holy Scripture In The Orthodox Church interesting. http://www.serfes.org/orthodox/scripturesinthechurch.htm

Thank you Riddikulus.

Selam
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« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2009, 02:21:15 PM »

What also may add to the confusion is the fact that the same Greek word is used in both verses. Context is everything.

In the NT, it's pretty easy to tell what's what. λόγος has nuance, but, as a translator, you really only have to choose from one of two major meanings (for pretty much all Greek from the Pre-Socratics onwards):

(1) λόγος as a word, utterance, something intelligible that man can rationally comprehend and, thus, leads persons to understanding and societies to lawful order, etc.; or

(2) λόγος as a metaphysical reality, i.e. the supreme creative/guiding principle that underpins the cosmos. By the time of the NT, that metaphysical reality is a divine hypostasis (a δεύτερος θεός in Philo and the Stoics; Jesus Christ in Christianity).
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« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2009, 08:14:51 PM »

What also may add to the confusion is the fact that the same Greek word is used in both verses. Context is everything.

In the NT, it's pretty easy to tell what's what. λόγος has nuance, but, as a translator, you really only have to choose from one of two major meanings (for pretty much all Greek from the Pre-Socratics onwards):

(1) λόγος as a word, utterance, something intelligible that man can rationally comprehend and, thus, leads persons to understanding and societies to lawful order, etc.; or

(2) λόγος as a metaphysical reality, i.e. the supreme creative/guiding principle that underpins the cosmos. By the time of the NT, that metaphysical reality is a divine hypostasis (a δεύτερος θεός in Philo and the Stoics; Jesus Christ in Christianity).

Thanks for the clarification. For those of us who are not Greek scholars, these explanations are very helpful. Smiley

Selam
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