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neon_knights
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« on: May 09, 2011, 10:25:19 PM »

Recently I've been having some conflicting ideas about saint veneration. I recently stumbled upon the verse in Revelation where John bows down to an angel, and an angel rebukes him for this. Would that not mean that if we saw a saint in person, and bowed to him/her in the Orthodox manner, the saint would rebuke us for doing so?

It seems like every time I understand one aspect of Orthodoxy, another question pops up. Maybe being used to Protestant doctrines makes it more difficult to accept Orthodox teachings.
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2011, 10:45:09 PM »

Revelation 22:8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.

emphasis mine


We do not worship the saints; we venerate them. Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2011, 10:45:28 PM »

Recently I've been having some conflicting ideas about saint veneration. I recently stumbled upon the verse in Revelation where John bows down to an angel, and an angel rebukes him for this. Would that not mean that if we saw a saint in person, and bowed to him/her in the Orthodox manner, the saint would rebuke us for doing so?

I've always wondered about that verse as well, as it doesn't seem to gel with everything else. I'll look forward to any thoughtful responses.

We do not worship the saints; we venerate them. Smiley

Unless you are getting into the Greek, this kind of response isn't really very helpful.
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2011, 10:50:16 PM »

Recently I've been having some conflicting ideas about saint veneration. I recently stumbled upon the verse in Revelation where John bows down to an angel, and an angel rebukes him for this. Would that not mean that if we saw a saint in person, and bowed to him/her in the Orthodox manner, the saint would rebuke us for doing so?

It seems like every time I understand one aspect of Orthodoxy, another question pops up. Maybe being used to Protestant doctrines makes it more difficult to accept Orthodox teachings.

This reminds me of the story in St. Mary of Egypt when St. Zosima meets her in the wilderness and they both prostrate to one another and ask repeatedly for the other's blessing, St. Zosima because St. Mary is such an ascetic and St. Mary because St. Zosima is a priest. Finally St. Mary relents and blesses St. Zosima. I think that saints, true saints, would not seek to be venerated in the way they are, since they would be full of humility. They just seek peace, repentence and salvation.

At the same time, we can venerate them as examples and worship Christ through them, because it is HIS salvation, HIS light that shines through them. The saints are endwelt by Christ, and are made in the very image of God. This is something which is impossible to the angelic hosts. For all of their beauty, their awe, their might...they are not endwelt by the Holy Spirit, they do not partake of the Eucharist, they are not fashioned in the image of God. Humans, however, are fashioned in God's image, and we seek to be a temple of the Spirit. It is the image in which the saints are made, and the deification which they have obtained, which makes them venerable. No angel, for all of their majesty, can ever partake of the divine nature. The saints do, and, Lord have mercy, may we also.
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2011, 10:51:33 PM »

Veneration=δουλεια
Worship=λατρεια

Edited a mistake.
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2011, 11:03:14 PM »

Recently I've been having some conflicting ideas about saint veneration. I recently stumbled upon the verse in Revelation where John bows down to an angel, and an angel rebukes him for this. Would that not mean that if we saw a saint in person, and bowed to him/her in the Orthodox manner, the saint would rebuke us for doing so?

It seems like every time I understand one aspect of Orthodoxy, another question pops up. Maybe being used to Protestant doctrines makes it more difficult to accept Orthodox teachings.

This reminds me of the story in St. Mary of Egypt when St. Zosima meets her in the wilderness and they both prostrate to one another and ask repeatedly for the other's blessing, St. Zosima because St. Mary is such an ascetic and St. Mary because St. Zosima is a priest. Finally St. Mary relents and blesses St. Zosima. I think that saints, true saints, would not seek to be venerated in the way they are, since they would be full of humility. They just seek peace, repentence and salvation.

At the same time, we can venerate them as examples and worship Christ through them, because it is HIS salvation, HIS light that shines through them. The saints are endwelt by Christ, and are made in the very image of God. This is something which is impossible to the angelic hosts. For all of their beauty, their awe, their might...they are not endwelt by the Holy Spirit, they do not partake of the Eucharist, they are not fashioned in the image of God. Humans, however, are fashioned in God's image, and we seek to be a temple of the Spirit. It is the image in which the saints are made, and the deification which they have obtained, which makes them venerable. No angel, for all of their majesty, can ever partake of the divine nature. The saints do, and, Lord have mercy, may we also.

Thanks for explaining. But then why is Michael the Archangel commonly venerated as a saint?
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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2011, 11:06:25 PM »

Recently I've been having some conflicting ideas about saint veneration. I recently stumbled upon the verse in Revelation where John bows down to an angel, and an angel rebukes him for this. Would that not mean that if we saw a saint in person, and bowed to him/her in the Orthodox manner, the saint would rebuke us for doing so?

It seems like every time I understand one aspect of Orthodoxy, another question pops up. Maybe being used to Protestant doctrines makes it more difficult to accept Orthodox teachings.

This reminds me of the story in St. Mary of Egypt when St. Zosima meets her in the wilderness and they both prostrate to one another and ask repeatedly for the other's blessing, St. Zosima because St. Mary is such an ascetic and St. Mary because St. Zosima is a priest. Finally St. Mary relents and blesses St. Zosima. I think that saints, true saints, would not seek to be venerated in the way they are, since they would be full of humility. They just seek peace, repentence and salvation.

At the same time, we can venerate them as examples and worship Christ through them, because it is HIS salvation, HIS light that shines through them. The saints are endwelt by Christ, and are made in the very image of God. This is something which is impossible to the angelic hosts. For all of their beauty, their awe, their might...they are not endwelt by the Holy Spirit, they do not partake of the Eucharist, they are not fashioned in the image of God. Humans, however, are fashioned in God's image, and we seek to be a temple of the Spirit. It is the image in which the saints are made, and the deification which they have obtained, which makes them venerable. No angel, for all of their majesty, can ever partake of the divine nature. The saints do, and, Lord have mercy, may we also.

Thanks for explaining. But then why is Michael the Archangel commonly venerated as a saint?

The word saint came from the latin word sanctus which means holy. Michael the Archangel is holy. That is why he is called a saint. Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2011, 11:08:48 PM »

The Greek word used in context actually is προσκυνέω, meaning "to worship". If i'm not mistaken this word implies all willingness to make gestures of worship, i.e. prostration, kissing...
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« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2011, 10:09:43 AM »

To say we worship the saints because we honor them is to call Christians stupid, to say that they do not know the difference between God and the saints, or icons and relics and God, etc. We know the difference. We worship God. We venerate saints as ones honored by God. The words may be imprecise, but what is in the heart and mid is not. No Christian says the Mother of God, for example, is of one essence with God. We honor her and the saints because we worship God, who through them has wrought salvation, worked wonders, taught us the faith, etc.
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« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2011, 10:16:17 AM »

The meaning of the word "worship" has changed in recent times. "Worship" means to simply say what something is worth.

worship - ORIGIN Old English weorthscipe [worthiness, acknowledgment of worth]. (see worth , -ship ).

What we give God is adoration. We adore God alone. (Unfortunately, "worship" and "adore" have exchanged meanings in terms of gravity.)

Clear as mud probably...

We worship saints
We adore God
We venerate (treat with honor & respect) both

The reason we can do this is because a holy person partakes of God's divine energies (that is, grace). That is what makes them holy. So we are not worshipping/venerating the saint of their own substance, but we are truly worshipping God in the person, inasmuch as they have cooperated with God and received the holiness God desires all of us to have. Veneration of the saints is intertwined with our theology of theosis.

That is also why we venerate all people to an extent, because we all bear God's image and hence have some level of holiness for that reason.
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« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2011, 12:07:40 PM »

Yes, but what is the angel telling him not to do? Let's deal with the actual issue with the Greek. Is the angel telling him not to honor/worship him, or not to adore him? Was he offering "doulia' or "latria"?

Sorry I can't read the greek.

Because to an Orthodox Christian, there would be nothing wrong with falling down before an angel, yet the angel tells him not to. I highly doubt that St. John was falling down before the angel to adore him as God, but rather out of fear and respect. Yet the angel would not accept this. Was the angel just being humble? Can angels even be humble?
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« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2011, 12:21:21 PM »

Yes, but what is the angel telling him not to do? Let's deal with the actual issue with the Greek. Is the angel telling him not to honor/worship him, or not to adore him? Was he offering "doulia' or "latria"?

Sorry I can't read the greek.

Because to an Orthodox Christian, there would be nothing wrong with falling down before an angel, yet the angel tells him not to. I highly doubt that St. John was falling down before the angel to adore him as God, but rather out of fear and respect. Yet the angel would not accept this. Was the angel just being humble? Can angels even be humble?

Revelation 22:8 Et ego Ioannes, qui audivi, et vidi hæc. Et postquam audissem, et vidissem, cecidi ut adorarem ante pedes angeli, qui mihi hæc ostendebat:

emphasis mine

St Jerome's Latin Vulgate shows the opinion that John bowed to adore/worship the angle.
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2011, 12:24:15 PM »

Yes, but what is the angel telling him not to do? Let's deal with the actual issue with the Greek. Is the angel telling him not to honor/worship him, or not to adore him? Was he offering "doulia' or "latria"?

Sorry I can't read the greek.

Because to an Orthodox Christian, there would be nothing wrong with falling down before an angel, yet the angel tells him not to. I highly doubt that St. John was falling down before the angel to adore him as God, but rather out of fear and respect. Yet the angel would not accept this. Was the angel just being humble? Can angels even be humble?

Revelation 22:8 Et ego Ioannes, qui audivi, et vidi hæc. Et postquam audissem, et vidissem, cecidi ut adorarem ante pedes angeli, qui mihi hæc ostendebat:

emphasis mine

St Jerome's Latin Vulgate shows the opinion that John bowed to adore/worship the angle.

But what about the Greek?
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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2011, 12:32:04 PM »

Ρεωελατιον 22¨8 κἀγὼ ἰωάννης ὁ ἀκούων καὶ βλέπων ταῦτα. καὶ ὅτε ἤκουσα καὶ ἔβλεψα, ἔπεσα προσκυνῆσαι ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ποδῶν τοῦ ἀγγέλου τοῦ δεικνύοντός μοι ταῦτα.

emphasis mine

Proskynisai

I'd need someone more knowledgable in Greek to explain the meaning.

It's translated as Worship in the KJV in the 60 times it occurs.
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« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2011, 12:47:11 PM »

Ρεωελατιον 22¨8 κἀγὼ ἰωάννης ὁ ἀκούων καὶ βλέπων ταῦτα. καὶ ὅτε ἤκουσα καὶ ἔβλεψα, ἔπεσα προσκυνῆσαι ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ποδῶν τοῦ ἀγγέλου τοῦ δεικνύοντός μοι ταῦτα.

emphasis mine

Proskynisai

I'd need someone more knowledgable in Greek to explain the meaning.

It's translated as Worship in the KJV in the 60 times it occurs.

As I suspected. Unless it was some form of latria, like with our word idolatry (idol + latria), then the above distinctions don't work. He was paying the angel high honors with physical gestures, and the angel was rejecting the gestures as wrong. There was not an overt intention to adore the angel as God.

Now that's not to say that there isn't wiggle room here for Orthodoxy to get by. Since veneration is offered to God and to holy things, we can assume that in this case the type of veneration being offered was improper, but to me this is a stretch and goes beyond the seemingly plain meaning of the text.
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« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2011, 12:50:37 PM »

Ρεωελατιον 22¨8 κἀγὼ ἰωάννης ὁ ἀκούων καὶ βλέπων ταῦτα. καὶ ὅτε ἤκουσα καὶ ἔβλεψα, ἔπεσα προσκυνῆσαι ἔμπροσθεν τῶν ποδῶν τοῦ ἀγγέλου τοῦ δεικνύοντός μοι ταῦτα.

emphasis mine

Proskynisai

I'd need someone more knowledgable in Greek to explain the meaning.

It's translated as Worship in the KJV in the 60 times it occurs.

What I remember from reading St. John of Damascus (who leaves no question unanswered) on icons is that the more relevant (perhaps) Greek words are doulia (service) and latria (worship), if I'm remembering this correctly. And such can be applied to the veneration of saints as well. Latria is worship, as in idolatry. Doulia is used as in iconodules, the venerators of icons. Proskynesis refers to movement, literally falling down on one's face, a gesture which can be made before God in prayer, before angels, or before kings or persons worthy of respect and honor. If this were not so, it would seem to me there would be more direct language and tradition prohibiting prostrating before people or things other than God. I haven't found that anywhere. So, in my mind, prostration (proskynesis) is neutral and ambiguous, a sign of either doulia or latria. It would seem to me that the difference between the two is known more on a personal level. Evil men and fallen angels declare themselves gods and want to be worshiped as such and erring men do so, not just in their action of bowing down, but in their belief that they are gods. The outward action and inward disposition agree. The outward action, however, is not necessarily a sign of inward disposition. People can pretend to worship the true God or false gods. This isn't to say they're blameless, but it is still an empty action.

Also, with regard to the veneration of saints, to understand it, one has to look more broadly. These are people through whom God has worked, whom he has honored, who are his friends. They are also members of our family as Orthodox Christians. They pray and act constantly for our welfare, that God's will may be done in our lives and in the world. Why would one not love and respect them? Why would one not thank them for their care and actions, which are at the behest of God? How can they be competitors with God for anything since God has sanctified them and since they desire only that God's will be done and that God be glorified? How can one accuse someone of idolatry in honoring and glorifying God's saints whom God himself has glorified and honored? It would be illogical, it would be madness. If you take away the veneration of saints, you destroy much of the Christian faith and warp it into something hideous and unrecognizable.
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« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2011, 01:19:47 PM »

It should also be said that for most Americans, it is impossible to divorce prostrating from a religious context as we have few outward signs of reverence in our culture, but nothing as forthright as prostrations. Our whole culture is based on egalitarianism, where fundamentally each person is the same. So in the same way that iconoclasts stripped all images from churches in an attempt to remove any possibility of idolatry, in the same way there has been a sort of "iconoclasm" in terms of reverence or homage.

We don't have kings with robes, we have presidents with everyday suits that all men wear. We don't address him as Your Highness, but as Mr. President. We don't prostrate before him, we shake his hand as an equal. He isn't chosen by God and ruling with divine right, he is elected by the people and derives his power from them.

In this there is a subtle but unnoticed evil, that by removing any sense of hierarchy or divine power in the world around us, and by saying that no man is greater than "me" in office or stature, we actually place ourselves in a position where we are not willing to bow down before anyone. This begins with men, but it ends with God. Even those who do believe in a concept of God often only bow before that which serves them well or that which they have fashioned in their own vain imaginings.

Most of the self-serving entertainment flavors of Protestantism don't even offer any kind of unique physical gestures for God. Most of the time is spent sitting with a hot latte in hand during a prolonged lecture, and even during songs of worship often the songs are about the worshipper's life and orientation rather than about the being of God Himself. The most I've seen in the extreme cases of places like Joel Osteen's church is people raising their hands, but people do this for rock stars at concerts as well or for celebrities passing by on a runway, so it's not some gesture exclusive to God. I will say that plenty of the serious Protestants that I know (Pentecostal, Baptist, Emergent, etc.) do kneel and even lay before God, but they have the notion that these physical gestures are for God alone and cannot imagine them in any other context at all. I am just making the point that our culture pretty much dictates this position to them from the ground up, and it takes a lot of thought and reflection to come to another conclusion.
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« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2011, 02:18:06 PM »

Thanks for explaining. But then why is Michael the Archangel commonly venerated as a saint?

Interesting question.

"Saint," as was stated earlier, comes from the Latin "sanctus" meaning "holy." St. Michael the Archangel is holy, and therefore a saint. The Greek word used is hagios, which also means "holy." This word is still found on Greek icons today to describe the saints.

Angels are ministers of God, members of the "Church" in that sense...but they are not inheritors. They have no theosis. They do not partake of the divine nature. That does not mean they aren't holy and should not be venerated, please don't misunderstand me. It is very clear in the Divine Liturgy that we serve it not only with the human saints but also with the angels ("though there stands beside the ten thousands of angels and thousands of archangel angels...")

The Holy Diaconiate is often paired liturgically with the Bodiless Hosts, indeed many churches depict Ss. Michael and Gabriel on the Deacon's Doors of the iconostasis. This is a particularly strong tradition among the Greeks.

The angels are truly holy, truly saints, and we may venerate them. Yet, they are not humans and do not partake of the divine nature.
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« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2011, 03:37:47 PM »

But would not the original Greek in context refer to the act of prostration itself that was rebuked?

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« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2011, 04:07:31 PM »

Ahh, internet forums.   I love you guys but you are driving me crazy.   I was going to address some of the stuff about angels but do not have time.  But so that no more nonsensical speculation comes about, everyone is making this more complicated than it has to be.  

Look, the key to understand Rev. 22.8 is Rev. 22.9, where the angel explains that he is not to be venerated because St. John is an Apostle, and thus a σύνδουλος (syn-doulos, translated "fellow servant" in several translations).   St. John who as an Apostle is equally worthy as a syndoulos of the same doulia should not be bowing down before the angel.   This is the angel acknowledging St. John's rank as Apostle.   While St. Mary and St. Zosima's response was to reverence each other, the angel's response is "let us stand together as syndouloi," particularly as the context here is the resurrection.   Also don't forget that the context here is that the Revelation is received as St. John is "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day," that is, he is offering Liturgy.  As St. John Chrysostom teaches us, a priest ought not bow down to the angel when liturgizing, as the angel depends on the sacrifice he is offering (the idea that the angels do not participate in theosis is wrong, but as professor Veniamin states, they do participate in a different manner than humans).    If a priest would not bow down before an angel in the celebration of the resurrectional Liturgy, how much moreso an Apostle.      

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« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2011, 04:21:50 PM »

Ahh, internet forums.   I love you guys but you are driving me crazy.   I was going to address some of the stuff about angels but do not have time.  But so that no more nonsensical speculation comes about, everyone is making this more complicated than it has to be.  

Look, the key to understand Rev. 22.8 is Rev. 22.9, where the angel explains that he is not to be venerated because St. John is an Apostle, and thus a σύνδουλος (syn-doulos, translated "fellow servant" in several translations).   St. John who as an Apostle is equally worthy as a syndoulos of the same doulia should not be bowing down before the angel.   This is the angel acknowledging St. John's rank as Apostle.   While St. Mary and St. Zosima's response was to reverence each other, the angel's response is "let us stand together as syndouloi," particularly as the context here is the resurrection.   Also don't forget that the context here is that the Revelation is received as St. John is "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day," that is, he is offering Liturgy.  As St. John Chrysostom teaches us, a priest ought not bow down to the angel when liturgizing, as the angel depends on the sacrifice he is offering (the idea that the angels do not participate in theosis is wrong, but as professor Veniamin states, they do participate in a different manner than humans).    If a priest would not bow down before an angel in the celebration of the resurrectional Liturgy, how much moreso an Apostle.      
Father,

Wonderful. Such a thing has never occurred to me, and yet it makes so much sense!

Would it also be correct to say that when we venerate a saint, we are venerating God energizing/working through that person?
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« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2011, 04:41:40 PM »

Ahh, internet forums.   I love you guys but you are driving me crazy.   I was going to address some of the stuff about angels but do not have time.  But so that no more nonsensical speculation comes about, everyone is making this more complicated than it has to be.  

Look, the key to understand Rev. 22.8 is Rev. 22.9, where the angel explains that he is not to be venerated because St. John is an Apostle, and thus a σύνδουλος (syn-doulos, translated "fellow servant" in several translations).   St. John who as an Apostle is equally worthy as a syndoulos of the same doulia should not be bowing down before the angel.   This is the angel acknowledging St. John's rank as Apostle.   While St. Mary and St. Zosima's response was to reverence each other, the angel's response is "let us stand together as syndouloi," particularly as the context here is the resurrection.   Also don't forget that the context here is that the Revelation is received as St. John is "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day," that is, he is offering Liturgy.  As St. John Chrysostom teaches us, a priest ought not bow down to the angel when liturgizing, as the angel depends on the sacrifice he is offering (the idea that the angels do not participate in theosis is wrong, but as professor Veniamin states, they do participate in a different manner than humans).    If a priest would not bow down before an angel in the celebration of the resurrectional Liturgy, how much moreso an Apostle.      



Thank you Father.
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« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2011, 04:56:32 PM »

Darn it. Priests are always ruining our speculatory fun with these informative answers they give.  Tongue   (Translated: thanks, Father!)
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« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2011, 06:13:54 PM »

Ahh, internet forums.   I love you guys but you are driving me crazy.   I was going to address some of the stuff about angels but do not have time.  But so that no more nonsensical speculation comes about, everyone is making this more complicated than it has to be.  

Look, the key to understand Rev. 22.8 is Rev. 22.9, where the angel explains that he is not to be venerated because St. John is an Apostle, and thus a σύνδουλος (syn-doulos, translated "fellow servant" in several translations).   St. John who as an Apostle is equally worthy as a syndoulos of the same doulia should not be bowing down before the angel.   This is the angel acknowledging St. John's rank as Apostle.   While St. Mary and St. Zosima's response was to reverence each other, the angel's response is "let us stand together as syndouloi," particularly as the context here is the resurrection.   Also don't forget that the context here is that the Revelation is received as St. John is "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day," that is, he is offering Liturgy.  As St. John Chrysostom teaches us, a priest ought not bow down to the angel when liturgizing, as the angel depends on the sacrifice he is offering (the idea that the angels do not participate in theosis is wrong, but as professor Veniamin states, they do participate in a different manner than humans).    If a priest would not bow down before an angel in the celebration of the resurrectional Liturgy, how much moreso an Apostle.      



Thanks again Father for that extremely interesting post. Learn something new every day huh?

Pardon my ignorance. I'm still an evangelical, very new to the Church.
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« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2011, 06:20:11 PM »

In this there is a subtle but unnoticed evil, that by removing any sense of hierarchy or divine power in the world around us, and by saying that no man is greater than "me" in office or stature, we actually place ourselves in a position where we are not willing to bow down before anyone. This begins with men, but it ends with God. Even those who do believe in a concept of God often only bow before that which serves them well or that which they have fashioned in their own vain imaginings.

This is very insightful.

As an aside, you would never see the reluctance to bow to a priest or an icon in an East Asian culture that you see in the Anglosphere.
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« Reply #25 on: May 10, 2011, 08:16:11 PM »

(the idea that the angels do not participate in theosis is wrong, but as professor Veniamin states, they do participate in a different manner than humans).

Bless, Father.

Thank you for your response! I would, however, like to hear more about the section of your post I've quoted above. Could you elaborate?
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« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2011, 09:20:41 PM »

Look, the key to understand Rev. 22.8 is Rev. 22.9, where the angel explains that he is not to be venerated because St. John is an Apostle, and thus a σύνδουλος (syn-doulos, translated "fellow servant" in several translations).   St. John who as an Apostle is equally worthy as a syndoulos of the same doulia should not be bowing down before the angel.   This is the angel acknowledging St. John's rank as Apostle.   While St. Mary and St. Zosima's response was to reverence each other, the angel's response is "let us stand together as syndouloi," particularly as the context here is the resurrection.   Also don't forget that the context here is that the Revelation is received as St. John is "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day," that is, he is offering Liturgy.  As St. John Chrysostom teaches us, a priest ought not bow down to the angel when liturgizing, as the angel depends on the sacrifice he is offering (the idea that the angels do not participate in theosis is wrong, but as professor Veniamin states, they do participate in a different manner than humans).    If a priest would not bow down before an angel in the celebration of the resurrectional Liturgy, how much moreso an Apostle.      
Father, Bless!

One question comes to mind though. In Rev 22:9 not only the author of Revelation was described as syndoulos (σύνδουλος: "fellow-servant"); the angel also describes himself as syndoulos of "those who who heed the words of this book."  Is there a reason to suppose this would not apply to the average Orthodox Christian?  

Rev 22:9  "But he said to me, "Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God."

Another answer I have seen (e.g. in a less detailed form in the Orthodox Study Bible) is a fairly strong argument from the universally acknowledged fact that Koine Greek "worship/do obeisance" (προσκυνέω/proskuneo) is in and of itself lexically ambiguous and can (and does) variously refer to *either* reverence/obeisance/veneration (cf. douleia/δουλεία) *or* worship (cf. latreia/λατρεία) in scripture, and that, therefore, *only* context or hermeneutic (e.g. tradition) can demarcate which of the two possible meanings of proskuneo is in view in a particular occurrence. This means to presume douleia/veneration is being prohibited simply because "proskuneo" is being prohibited in Rev 22:9 is just as much eisegesis (reading into the text an *exegetical* uncertainty) as saying latreia is being prohibited simply because proskuneo is.

How might this apply to Rev 22:9? When the author of Revelation saw the angel, he might have presumed this was, or could be, the Angel of the Lord, i.e. a Theophany or Christophany as we see repeatedly in the OT. On this view the angel, seeing the extreme reaction (and throughout scripture reactions to angels are usually characterized by extreme shock and awe where men often fall down as if dead) was making it known that he was not God, not Christ, not worthy of *latreia/worship* -not the Creator, but a creature, like the revelator himself, and the prophets, and everyone else who heeds the words of God. Not *the* Angel, but an angel, a syndoulos.

Is this exegetically certain? Of course not. But neither from the text alone is the assumption that simple veneration is being prohibited. Something beyond the text must make the choice. Either tradition can suggest an answer or the answer is unknown and cannot be used as a firm objection to veneration on purely exegetical grounds alone. I personally think Orthodox praxis has nothing to worry about from Rev 22:9.

That said, there may indeed be something to the hierarchal solution suggested by FatherHLL, and it is indeed thought provoking.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2011, 09:38:23 PM by xariskai » Logged

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« Reply #27 on: May 10, 2011, 11:47:12 PM »

^Yes.  Several things:

Those who "guard" τηρούντων (could also be translated hold in custody, in many English bibles translated as "keep")--is he talking about St. John's fellow Apostles or about just anyone?   He mentions the prophets so that this refers to His fellow Apostles as well as Bishops entrusted with the Apostolic office of guarding or being custodians of the words, i.e. what St. John would call his fellow presbyteroi.

...καὶ τῶν τηρούντων τοὺς λόγους τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου· τῷ Θεῷ προσκύνησον
...and the guardians (or custodians) of the words of this book:  worship God.  

Looking at the whole passage:    
καὶ λέγει μοι· Ὅρα μή· σύνδουλός σού εἰμι
and he said to me: 'do you not see (ora mh="see you not") I am your syndoulos' (literally "syndoulos of yours I am").  
καὶ τῶν ἀδελφῶν σου τῶν προφητῶν καὶ τῶν τηρούντων τοὺς λόγους τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου· τῷ Θεῷ προσκύνησον
and the brethren of yours the prophets and the keepers of the words of this book; the God worship.

Ultimately, if we read it as if it was referring to every one of the faithful, that would mean that the angel is completely passing over the apostolic office right after he mentions the prophetic office, as well as right after it is revealed that the 12 have a pillar role in the Kingdom of God.  This would be especially strange since it was just revealed to John that the Apostles were the foundations of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21.14).  But I think the clincher that the "guardians" of the words of the book are the Apostles is Rev. 19.10:

"And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant and of thy brethren that have the witness (μαρτυρίαν) of Jesus: worship God: for the witness of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy."   As we recall back to Acts, Judas was replaced precisely as one of the twelve Matthias would be together with the other eleven the "witness" of Christ and His resurrection.  Thus John, and his brethren the prophets and his fellow apostolic guardians of the words who hold the witness of Christ are the 'fellow-servants' of the angel.    
« Last Edit: May 10, 2011, 11:48:57 PM by FatherHLL » Logged
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« Reply #28 on: May 10, 2011, 11:56:40 PM »

^Yes.  Several things:

Those who "guard" τηρούντων (could also be translated hold in custody, in many English bibles translated as "keep")--is he talking about St. John's fellow Apostles or about just anyone?   He mentions the prophets so that this refers to His fellow Apostles as well as Bishops entrusted with the Apostolic office of guarding or being custodians of the words, i.e. what St. John would call his fellow presbyteroi.

...καὶ τῶν τηρούντων τοὺς λόγους τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου· τῷ Θεῷ προσκύνησον
...and the guardians (or custodians) of the words of this book:  worship God.  

Looking at the whole passage:    
καὶ λέγει μοι· Ὅρα μή· σύνδουλός σού εἰμι
and he said to me: 'do you not see (ora mh="see you not") I am your syndoulos' (literally "syndoulos of yours I am").  
καὶ τῶν ἀδελφῶν σου τῶν προφητῶν καὶ τῶν τηρούντων τοὺς λόγους τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου· τῷ Θεῷ προσκύνησον
and the brethren of yours the prophets and the keepers of the words of this book; the God worship.

Ultimately, if we read it as if it was referring to every one of the faithful, that would mean that the angel is completely passing over the apostolic office right after he mentions the prophetic office, as well as right after it is revealed that the 12 have a pillar role in the Kingdom of God.  This would be especially strange since it was just revealed to John that the Apostles were the foundations of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21.14).  But I think the clincher that the "guardians" of the words of the book are the Apostles is Rev. 19.10:

"And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant and of thy brethren that have the witness (μαρτυρίαν) of Jesus: worship God: for the witness of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy."   As we recall back to Acts, Judas was replaced precisely as one of the twelve Matthias would be together with the other eleven the "witness" of Christ and His resurrection.  Thus John, and his brethren the prophets and his fellow apostolic guardians of the words who hold the witness of Christ are the 'fellow-servants' of the angel.    

Wow, very interesting; I never saw it that way! A++ Thanks!
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« Reply #29 on: June 05, 2011, 12:55:41 AM »

I have a question, if it is wrong for syndouloi, why then did Saints Mary and Zosima venerate each other? Did they just recognize each other's holiness? It was said above that St. Mary was doing it because St. Zosima was a priest, but how is venerating a living priest justified?
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« Reply #30 on: June 06, 2011, 12:39:16 AM »

^Please see reply 19 here:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,36026.msg568077.html#msg568077

It is not wrong that they venerated each other.  As stated in the post, with St. John and the Angel, the context was the celebration of the Resurrection.  There is no kneeling, bowing, or prostrating on the Lord's Day.     
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« Reply #31 on: June 06, 2011, 02:23:24 AM »

Ah. Ok. I missed that part.
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« Reply #32 on: June 06, 2011, 02:29:20 AM »

Ahh, internet forums.   I love you guys but you are driving me crazy.   I was going to address some of the stuff about angels but do not have time.  But so that no more nonsensical speculation comes about, everyone is making this more complicated than it has to be.  

Look, the key to understand Rev. 22.8 is Rev. 22.9, where the angel explains that he is not to be venerated because St. John is an Apostle, and thus a σύνδουλος (syn-doulos, translated "fellow servant" in several translations).   St. John who as an Apostle is equally worthy as a syndoulos of the same doulia should not be bowing down before the angel.   This is the angel acknowledging St. John's rank as Apostle.   While St. Mary and St. Zosima's response was to reverence each other, the angel's response is "let us stand together as syndouloi," particularly as the context here is the resurrection.   Also don't forget that the context here is that the Revelation is received as St. John is "in the Spirit on the Lord's Day," that is, he is offering Liturgy.  As St. John Chrysostom teaches us, a priest ought not bow down to the angel when liturgizing, as the angel depends on the sacrifice he is offering (the idea that the angels do not participate in theosis is wrong, but as professor Veniamin states, they do participate in a different manner than humans).    If a priest would not bow down before an angel in the celebration of the resurrectional Liturgy, how much moreso an Apostle.      



Father,

Thank you for abiding our craziness and continuing to put in energy to reign us lunatics in!
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« Reply #33 on: June 06, 2011, 02:31:52 AM »

xariskai,

Always edifying!

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« Reply #34 on: June 06, 2011, 03:37:20 AM »

Indeed!
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