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Author Topic: Are Traditions infallible?  (Read 4297 times) Average Rating: 0
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wolf
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« on: July 21, 2011, 11:08:29 AM »

I'm sure this question has been asked many times, but here it is again. When I am talking about traditions, I mean things like the life/death of early apostles and saints, the life of the Theotokos, St. Luke writing the first icon ect. Many of these are not believed to be true by modern scholars. Is every word of every tradition Holy Tradition, or are some traditions more important than others? How does infallibility work in Orthodoxy anyway..?
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« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2011, 11:21:19 AM »

I'm sure this question has been asked many times, but here it is again. When I am talking about traditions, I mean things like the life/death of early apostles and saints, the life of the Theotokos, St. Luke writing the first icon ect. Many of these are not believed to be true by modern scholars. Is every word of every tradition Holy Tradition, or are some traditions more important than others? How does infallibility work in Orthodoxy anyway..?

They're just as infallible as modern scholars.

Some traditions are more important than others. If you misbelieve or refuse to believe certain traditions, this can lead you into heresy. Others you can, I suppose, choose not to believe, but you'll be something of an idiot.
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« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2011, 11:32:19 AM »

wolf,

A general question like this doesn't profit much in discussion, because the answer no matter what others say here is simply:

No.

Now, once you begin to get more specific on which thread of tradition you mean and what you mean by infallible (even most folks don't even get the simple definition correct), then you can have an interesting discussion.

Also you ought to get your mind around the fact that everything is tradition to the degree we can discuss something within a historical or even phenomenological context, which is probably what most people care about. As to ontology that is a separate matter and something most folks probably wouldn't understand, don't need to, nor is important.

So, is there anything specific you are having trouble with?

And what do you mean by infallible?

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« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2011, 12:05:02 PM »

What is meant by Holy Tradition is not the same thing as what Protestants believe about the Bible. It's a horse of a different color.

What we mean is that if you examine any doctrine or practice of The Church you can look back and see how it has been understood over time..
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« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2011, 12:13:33 PM »

Thank you both for the replies.

I wasn't thinking of not believing certain doctrines, but wondered more what the "limit" of Holy Tradition is.
Roman Catholics have a distinction between Dogma, Doctrine and then non-doctrinal teaching. The former two pertain to matters of Faith while the latter does not. I think all are presumed to be true, but it does not necessarily affect your salvation if you stop believing in a matter of non-doctrinal tradition. I wonder if there is an equivalent to this in Orthodoxy. If there is any way of knowing when legend or even reliable traditions become part of the Holy Tradition.

Quote
And what do you mean by infallible?

Free from theological and historical error. The Resurrection (I presume) would be a infallible teaching because it is true historically and theologically. At least, this has been my understanding.

Quote
So, is there anything specific you are having trouble with?

I am not necessarily talking about traditions such as the Entry into the Temple by the Theotokos, which appear quite early (although I am struggling), but minor things such as the idea that St. Luke wrote the first Icon or that the High Priest said This or that exact words to Mary as she entered the temple. It is the minor details that don't necessarily appear in the text of the services (something I have heard is a standard of sorts) but are nevertheless encountered by anyone researching these topics.
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« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2011, 12:32:12 PM »

Thank you both for the replies.

I wasn't thinking of not believing certain doctrines, but wondered more what the "limit" of Holy Tradition is.
Roman Catholics have a distinction between Dogma, Doctrine and then non-doctrinal teaching. The former two pertain to matters of Faith while the latter does not. I think all are presumed to be true, but it does not necessarily affect your salvation if you stop believing in a matter of non-doctrinal tradition. I wonder if there is an equivalent to this in Orthodoxy. If there is any way of knowing when legend or even reliable traditions become part of the Holy Tradition.

Quote
And what do you mean by infallible?

Free from theological and historical error. The Resurrection (I presume) would be a infallible teaching because it is true historically and theologically. At least, this has been my understanding.

Quote
So, is there anything specific you are having trouble with?

I am not necessarily talking about traditions such as the Entry into the Temple by the Theotokos, which appear quite early (although I am struggling), but minor things such as the idea that St. Luke wrote the first Icon or that the High Priest said This or that exact words to Mary as she entered the temple. It is the minor details that don't necessarily appear in the text of the services (something I have heard is a standard of sorts) but are nevertheless encountered by anyone researching these topics.


I love infallible. As you say, it means something like "free from error" or better yet "ain't wrong". But we all being good neo-Platonists, know that the privation of something doesn't the opposite make. So infallible certainly doesn't mean "true".

Orthodox don't (or I haven't ever heard it used) use the word infallible. As marc obliquely allude to above, it is more of a consensus over time made up of the witness of Scripture, Councils, Liturgy, Patristics, hymns / icons, with the degree of emphasis in about that order, to make it simple.

If you don't believe in the Resurrection in its full theological and historical truth, you absolutely ain't Orthodox.

The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple is another matter. More than a few prominent Orthodox hold its "theological" truth but have grave reservations about its historical possibility. You can see by searching this board, the Orthodox here are split on the matter.

Certainly, there are things you "must" believe (just look at the Symbol of Faith) and there are other traditions which some understand in a variety of ways or don't believe in at all.

The best way to discern all this of course is to attend liturgy and read the Scriptures. Ask questions of your fellow Orthodox to get a gist of the degree of consensus on the matter you have questions about.

Recently for example, there was a poster who was arguing a literal interpretation of Christ's words regarding referring to no man as father, teacher, etc.

Did you notice the reaction? I don't think a single person on this board even began to give any credence to idea that was a legitimate POV.

The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple? Not so much consensus here.

If you don't know how to use google to see how "divisive" certain traditions are or how "literally" they are held in general by folks on this board, just do the following in google:

Code:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/ WHATEVER YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/ "entrance of the theotokos"

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/ "call no man father"

The quotes will return only those results with that exact phrase contained within.

Best of luck.



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« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2011, 01:30:02 PM »

How does infallibility work in Orthodoxy anyway..?

Here's how it works: God speaks or works infallible, then humans mess it up.  And that's about it. Wink  Whether you're talking about the Bible, morality, or whatever else, humans have a way of getting things wrong. Thankfully God keeps nudging us back in the right direction.
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2011, 03:18:18 PM »

Like Apostle Luke painting first icon.

In Eastern Orthodox monasteries there are icons believed to be painted by Apostle Luke. There is even a prayer mentioning that:
St. Luke wrote the first icon, of the Most Holy Theotokos Directress or Hodigitria, mentioned in the Paraklesis to the Theotokos:

Speechless be the lips of impious ones,
Those who do not reverence
Your great icon, the sacred one
Which is called Directress,
And was depicted for us
By one of the apostles,
Luke the Evangelist.

So, based on history rules is OK.
Some people want to see with their eyes Apostle Luke painting icons. What can you do then.
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2011, 03:50:48 PM »

Ugh--I just noticed a typo in my post... I meant "God speaks or works infallibly"
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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2011, 09:30:16 AM »

Everything human is fallible.
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2011, 12:24:52 PM »

The resurrection is an infallible teaching for the same reason that "platybus are mammals that lay eggs" is. Because it happened in the real world. Not because the chain of transmission is "infallible".

Only God is infallible in the strict sense. The Church will never err because it is the nature of Truth to prevail.

Many people, even large powerful groups have erred though because they though that something or someone among their ranks was the exclusive channel of this infalibillity. The Heresiarchists, Gnostics, the Formulists, Papists, Bibleists, Chronocentrists, Calendarists, Culturalists, Akribeists all believe, directly or indirectly that a certain Church's element of their choice, invariably considered the one or supreme source of truth and build a system over it at the expense of the communion with the holos of the Church. (thus the term "αἵρεσις", meaning "choice" or "system of principles")
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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2011, 01:11:13 PM »

Yes, this is true, because...

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

This is the tricky part, if Jesus Christ is the truth, then He things that are not of Him are not true.  The standard is that no things apart from Him are true in and of themselves.  Therefore, a 'tradition' that is not of Him cannot be true.

A tradition is only true to the extent that it leads one to Christ, so a biblical parable can be more true than the real-life 'relationships' we experience on a daily basis, even though the parable are, in fact, not historcal phenomenon whereas our relationships are.  Yet, the latter can be utterly fake.



Ugh--I just noticed a typo in my post... I meant "God speaks or works infallibly"
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« Reply #12 on: July 23, 2011, 09:20:47 AM »

Thanks to everyone for the great replies.

orthonorm
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The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple is another matter. More than a few prominent Orthodox hold its "theological" truth but have grave reservations about its historical possibility. You can see by searching this board, the Orthodox here are split on the matter.

I guess I don't see why the Church would pick up traditions that are not historically accurate. Isn't this just opening the Church up to criticism, which surely is the opposite of what God wants? I do understand that historically speaking, people were brought up in the temple instead of being ransomed back on the 40th day (Sampson for example), so I can accept that, but does the Tradition, hymns ect. say anywhere that she was brought up in the Holy of Holies, or is this only in the Protoevangelium? Also, it seems that she was expecting to have some kind of part in salvation, or at least those around her thought that, which could be in contrast to what is portrayed in the Annunciation.

pasadi97
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So, based on history rules is OK.
Some people want to see with their eyes Apostle Luke painting icons. What can you do then.

I am not sure that there is any evidence of icons actually from the 1st century itself, which doesn't mean they didn't exist though. Just out of interest, do you know how far back this tradition goes, or if the Icons in question have been dated scientifically?

Fabio Leite
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The resurrection is an infallible teaching for the same reason that "platybus are mammals that lay eggs" is. Because it happened in the real world. Not because the chain of transmission is "infallible".

I see what you are saying, although I have heard from some Orthodox that the Creed and Ecumenical councils represent Orthodox "dogma", "the Faith once delivered", the rest being extra - true, but not a part of the Faith. Dr. Eugenia Constantinou for example said this.

FatherGiryus
Quote
A tradition is only true to the extent that it leads one to Christ, so a biblical parable can be more true than the real-life 'relationships' we experience on a daily basis, even though the parable are, in fact, not historcal phenomenon whereas our relationships are.  Yet, the latter can be utterly fake.

I think I see what you are saying, but is there any way of drawing the line? If (and you may not be saying this) some traditions are of metaphorical meaning, could the same not be said of other traditions - the incarnation, resurrection?
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2011, 01:08:26 PM »

There are icons painted on the walls of the catacombs, which are very early.

Also, even if something originated after the First Century, that would not necessarily make it illegitimate. The Church is the creation of Christ, and it should not lack the ability to produce logical outgrowths, necessary to its functions. After all, I've heard no one object to taking the bus to church, and there were no buses in the Apostles' time.  Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2011, 08:36:29 AM »

Quote
but does the Tradition, hymns ect. say anywhere that she was brought up in the Holy of Holies, or is this only in the Protoevangelium?


The hymns for the feast of the Entry of the Mother Od God into the Temple indeed say she was brought up in the Holy of Holies. Here are some verses from this feast:

The spotless maiden is led by the Holy Spirit to dwell in the Holy of Holies. She, who is truly the most holy temple of our holy God, is fed by an angel. He has sanctified all things by her entry, and has made Godlike the fallen nature of mortal men.

With their lamps in hand, the maidens rejoice today as they go in reverence before the spiritual lamp, who enters into the Holy of Holies. They foreshadow the Brightness beyond words that is to shine forth from her, to illumine with the Spirit those that sit in the darkness of ignorance.

After your birth, O Mistress and Bride of God, you came to dwell in the temple of the Lord to be brought up in the Holy of Holies, for you are holy. Gabriel was sent to bring food to you, the undefiled virgin. O Mother of God, without blemish or stain, who is glorified in heaven and on earth, intercede for us.
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« Reply #15 on: July 24, 2011, 09:20:27 AM »

Biro
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There are icons painted on the walls of the catacombs, which are very early.

Also, even if something originated after the First Century, that would not necessarily make it illegitimate. The Church is the creation of Christ, and it should not lack the ability to produce logical outgrowths, necessary to its functions. After all, I've heard no one object to taking the bus to church, and there were no buses in the Apostles' time.

Thanks for the info. I actually don't have a problem with Icons, whether the Apostles created them or not. I know that they can be reliably traced back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries and no-one had a problem with them as far as I know...

LBK
Thanks, do you know where I can find the rest of the text to the service? (would also love to know if the texts to all the 12 great feasts could be found online - I have been trying to search using google but found nothing complete).
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« Reply #16 on: July 24, 2011, 09:32:56 AM »

wolf, I have the complete service for the feast of the Entry in Word form. PM me with a suitable email address, and I can send it to you.
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« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2011, 04:33:57 AM »

I didn't want to make another tread pertaining to a similar matter, so:

The Orthodox Church believes that the Theotokos was bodily glorified in heaven after death, just like her son, and yet believes that we wait until after the second coming for the resurrection of the body (unlike Catholic and Protestants, who tend to say that we go immediately to heaven - one of the reasons I began to look at Orthodoxy actually). Is she the only one - or are all Saints bodily glorified? I have two problems with this if she is the only one:

1)How can the saints intercede for us, especially with bodily visitations as described by some, if they do not have bodies yet?
2)I find it hard to believe that this kind of thing would have been kept secret for 300+ years if she was.

Or is this just a case of time in the Kingdom of God not being the same as on Earth? Although in time the Saints are not glorified, they are in eternity and this is how they can intercede?
 Also, it mentions in one of the gospels that dead Saints started walking around the city - is this the same kind of thing?

I do remember reading that some Fathers believed that most of us wait until after the second coming for the bodily resurrection but Saints and Martyrs "get in early" because of their holiness. Would this be correct, and does it mean that Mary is not the only one bodily in heaven?

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08550a.htm
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According to others, only the martyrs and some other classes of saints are admitted at once to the supreme joys of heaven.
(no source unfortunately).
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« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2011, 04:48:54 AM »

Do you think there is time after death? Maybe they 'already' are 'after' the Judgement.
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« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2011, 04:51:29 AM »

People with glorified bodies:

Christ

The Theotokos

maybe Elijiah.

2)I find it hard to believe that this kind of thing would have been kept secret for 300+ years if she was.
The tradition is earlier than ~350 AD.

1)How can the saints intercede for us, especially with bodily visitations as described by some, if they do not have bodies yet?
They don't have bodies; it's a mystical experience. Angels are bodiless powers, for example, and one appeared to the Myrrh-bearing women as a young man.

I do remember reading that some Fathers believed that most of us wait until after the second coming for the bodily resurrection but Saints and Martyrs "get in early" because of their holiness. Would this be correct, and does it mean that Mary is not the only one bodily in heaven?
I think you're confusing the Paradise with the Kingdom to Come; perhaps as a result of mainstream Protestantism's con-fusion of heaven, the general resurrection and the coming kingdom on earth. The general Resurrection will occur when Heaven comes to Earth. The Saints await resurrection in the Bosom of Abraham, in the now-despoiled Sheol. When one says that the righteous are in heaven right now, one is speaking about "the righteous souls are in the hand of God" (see: Wisdom of Solomon).
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« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2011, 05:36:34 AM »

Michał Kalina
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Do you think there is time after death? Maybe they 'already' are 'after' the Judgement.

This would have been my first thoughts, but Nicholas Myra seems to say otherwise.

People with glorified bodies:

Christ

The Theotokos

maybe Elijiah.

2)I find it hard to believe that this kind of thing would have been kept secret for 300+ years if she was.
The tradition is earlier than ~350 AD.

I have also read that John the Baptist may have a glorified body, have you heard of this?
Can you prove that it is earliar than the earliest sources, from the 300s AD?
Even if it was earliar than that, why do no first century sources make reference to it? Why the secrecy - it makes it seem as if it was a later tradition, rather than something from the time of the Apostles.
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« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2011, 05:59:45 AM »

Even if it was earliar than that, why do no first century sources make reference to it? Why the secrecy - it makes it seem as if it was a later tradition, rather than something from the time of the Apostles.

Keeping things secret was the norm in early Christianity.
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« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2011, 06:55:47 AM »

My understanding is that the Holy Traditions of the Church are taught and encouraged for the benefit of our knowledge and growth in our spiritual journey, but that the Church has not deemed all Traditions "infallible," necessarily.  "Infallibility" is asserted by the Church for doctrine, part of Holy Tradition, promulgated by an Ecumenical Synod (Council), accepted by the common mind of the church (laity and clergy), and reconfirmed by a subsequent Synod.  Belief in the Church's doctrines are required for salvation.  Belief in the "Theologoumena," "Theological Teachings," are not required to be believed for salvation, but that is not to negate their significance, though, I have heard a prominent priest say the "Theologoumena" "are matters that may or may not be believed."  It may be that while the Church teaches the "theological teaching," it is not specified in scripture or it simply was not a debated controversy, and, as such, was not addressed by an Ecumenical Synod.  
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« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2011, 06:56:51 AM »

Even if it was earliar than that, why do no first century sources make reference to it? Why the secrecy - it makes it seem as if it was a later tradition, rather than something from the time of the Apostles.

Keeping things secret was the norm in early Christianity.

So secret that no-one wrote about them? This isn't the case for most other things in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2011, 07:11:04 AM »

Even if it was earliar than that, why do no first century sources make reference to it? Why the secrecy - it makes it seem as if it was a later tradition, rather than something from the time of the Apostles.

Keeping things secret was the norm in early Christianity.

So secret that no-one wrote about them? This isn't the case for most other things in Orthodoxy.

Possibly. Though I would agree that calling it "the norm" was a gross overstatement.
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« Reply #25 on: August 01, 2011, 03:47:14 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I'm not quite sure Orthodox really considers the concept of Infallibility in the way the Roman Catholic or even the sola scripture folks.  If anything, the only things Infallible within Orthodox are the Seven Divine Mysteries in and of themselves.  Everything is else up to the Grace of God.

Further, if the Tradition were Infallible, there would have to be at least jurisdictional if not Universal canons regarding which writings, fathers, Saints, teachings, etc etc were legitimately Infallible and in which were not.  In Orthodox we have several over lapping Canons, Councils, and Synods, both Universal, jurisdictional, and even local which define the Tradition, but I would not think rigidly enough for Infallibility.

Stay Blessed,
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« Reply #26 on: August 01, 2011, 04:53:59 PM »

Tradition is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church through the ages.  So it is of course infallible.

Now, the particulars of how that life has been manifested, that is a slightly diffferent issue.

Take for instance the Fathers: they witness to the Holy Spirit in themselves as they are able.  However, unlike Christ on Mt. Tabor, they are not able to manifest the divine light in all His glory.  A Father is not infallible, because only Christ is infallible. So a Father's writings contain the limitations of his age, his understanding, his education etc.  The light in all the Fathers is the same, but they cannot, due to their lmited nature, manifest it the same way.  Hence the importance of the consensus of the Fathers, as the light shines brighter, as Christ promises when two or three were gathered in His name.
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« Reply #27 on: August 01, 2011, 04:57:26 PM »

Western people, for some reason, seem to crave a form of infallibility. Some want a source to turn to, others seek out gurus who will tell them what to do. It's like they take comfort in surrendering personal responsibility.
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« Reply #28 on: August 01, 2011, 05:07:11 PM »

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Take for instance the Fathers: they witness to the Holy Spirit in themselves as they are able.  However, unlike Christ on Mt. Tabor, they are not able to manifest the divine light in all His glory.  A Father is not infallible, because only Christ is infallible. So a Father's writings contain the limitations of his age, his understanding, his education etc.  The light in all the Fathers is the same, but they cannot, due to their lmited nature, manifest it the same way.  Hence the importance of the consensus of the Fathers, as the light shines brighter, as Christ promises when two or three were gathered in His name.

So basically ialmisry, the Traditions are infallible in spirit, but not necessarily in practice?

PP
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« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2011, 05:09:58 PM »

Western people, for some reason, seem to crave a form of infallibility. Some want a source to turn to, others seek out gurus who will tell them what to do. It's like they take comfort in surrendering personal responsibility.

Gurus are Eastern.
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« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2011, 05:27:12 PM »

Even if it was earliar than that, why do no first century sources make reference to it? Why the secrecy - it makes it seem as if it was a later tradition, rather than something from the time of the Apostles.

Keeping things secret was the norm in early Christianity.

So secret that no-one wrote about them? This isn't the case for most other things in Orthodoxy.

It may have been such common knowledge that they didn't see a need to write it down. They may have assumed it would be passed verbally.
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« Reply #31 on: August 01, 2011, 05:43:38 PM »

Western people, for some reason, seem to crave a form of infallibility. Some want a source to turn to, others seek out gurus who will tell them what to do. It's like they take comfort in surrendering personal responsibility.

Gurus are Eastern.

Your point?

Guru-ism is very common amongst Westerners, both those flocking to Hindoo gurus in the West and India, and those flocking to real or imagined holy elders in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #32 on: August 01, 2011, 05:44:41 PM »

Even if it was earliar than that, why do no first century sources make reference to it? Why the secrecy - it makes it seem as if it was a later tradition, rather than something from the time of the Apostles.

Keeping things secret was the norm in early Christianity.

So secret that no-one wrote about them? This isn't the case for most other things in Orthodoxy.

It may have been such common knowledge that they didn't see a need to write it down. They may have assumed it would be passed verbally.

Just like the Scriptures, the oral sayings of the Lord recorded by St. Paul, and the oral part of holy tradition.
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« Reply #33 on: August 01, 2011, 08:50:52 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Western people, for some reason, seem to crave a form of infallibility. Some want a source to turn to, others seek out gurus who will tell them what to do. It's like they take comfort in surrendering personal responsibility.

This is because for better or worse the Western civilization has been guided by its logical mind and not its mysterious heart (this is not to say the West has no heart, rather they just under emphasize its' importance) and so the logical mind needs rigid, structured, mathematical rules, laws, and guidelines to make sense of its place in reality.  The East on the other hand, is a bit more esoteric about the matter, and prefers the harmony and spiritual inspiration of relying upon the heart.  In fact, the Orthodox and the Mysteries were precisely established by our Lord to heal the gap and put properly together the thinking mind which has its foot in this present world, and our spiritual hearts which are attuned to the Divine.

Infallibility in the Catholic Church is a concept foreign entirely to Orthodox (aside from the Seven Divine Mysteries themselves) because we do not need things to be perfect in our comprehension of them, instead we must experience God from the stillness of our hearts and then the truth underlying shines forth and changes us.  Our minds can not change or heal us, as our minds are precisely what is broken, and it is obvious that you can't use a broken tool for repairs.  The heart in God's Grace can heal and teach us all there is to understand through direct experience rather then contemplative reasoning.  This is why we call them Mysteries Smiley

stay blessed,
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« Reply #34 on: August 02, 2011, 05:46:50 AM »

There are valid historical documents that are called traditions. Applying history rules they are valid. Applying other sets of rules like if I did not see apostle painting I don't believe then I don't know.
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« Reply #35 on: August 02, 2011, 10:47:48 AM »

Looks like I was repeating myself.

Some people say that Eusebius history of Church speaks about this and also icons painted by St Luke exists even today . From generation to generation the information that this icon was painted by Apostle Luke remained .

http://www.coptic.net/articles/CopticIcons.txt
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« Reply #36 on: August 02, 2011, 11:25:56 AM »

I think that is a good summary.



So basically ialmisry, the Traditions are infallible in spirit, but not necessarily in practice?

PP
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« Reply #37 on: August 02, 2011, 01:32:05 PM »

Quote
I think that is a good summary.

Thank you FatherGiryus. That really helps me out...very much so actually.

PP
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« Reply #38 on: August 03, 2011, 04:04:56 AM »

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Further, if the Tradition were Infallible, there would have to be at least jurisdictional if not Universal canons regarding which writings, fathers, Saints, teachings, etc etc were legitimately Infallible and in which were not.  In Orthodox we have several over lapping Canons, Councils, and Synods, both Universal, jurisdictional, and even local which define the Tradition, but I would not think rigidly enough for Infallibility.

This struck me as well. Many EO would say that the OO churches are Orthodox, and yet they have different traditions, as do the different churches in the EO communion - if tradition is absolutely infallible in the way that it is practiced, then which practice is correct? Tradition being infallible in spirit makes a lot of sense to me.

CBGardner
Quote
It may have been such common knowledge that they didn't see a need to write it down. They may have assumed it would be passed verbally.

May have been - but the same could be said of any of the main doctrines of the Church - yet they were written down because people know about them, wanted to write about them and preach about them for the instruction of the faithful. Surely something as important as the Mother of God being taken up to heaven and bodily resurrected would have been something to talk about, and yet people in the Church remain silent for 400 years (if anyone knows the actual date, it would be much appreciated). Also, the tradition wasn't uniform either - there were differences in what actually happened by different sources.

The traditions about Mary are one of the last stumbling blocks between me and the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #39 on: August 03, 2011, 04:10:45 AM »

This struck me as well. Many EO would say that the OO churches are Orthodox, and yet they have different traditions, as do the different churches in the EO communion - if tradition is absolutely infallible in the way that it is practiced, then which practice is correct? Tradition being infallible in spirit makes a lot of sense to me.

Discussions EO vs. OO are banned outside Private Forums. If you don't have an access there, you should ask FrChris and ask that question there.
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« Reply #40 on: August 03, 2011, 05:56:39 AM »

This struck me as well. Many EO would say that the OO churches are Orthodox, and yet they have different traditions, as do the different churches in the EO communion - if tradition is absolutely infallible in the way that it is practiced, then which practice is correct? Tradition being infallible in spirit makes a lot of sense to me.

Discussions EO vs. OO are banned outside Private Forums. If you don't have an access there, you should ask FrChris and ask that question there.

Sorry, and thanks.
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« Reply #41 on: August 03, 2011, 10:04:27 AM »

if tradition is absolutely infallible in the way that it is practiced, then which practice is correct?

Remember that there is a difference between (T)radition, and (t)radition.
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« Reply #42 on: August 03, 2011, 10:10:56 AM »

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There are icons painted on the walls of the catacombs, which are very early.

Also, even if something originated after the First Century, that would not necessarily make it illegitimate. The Church is the creation of Christ, and it should not lack the ability to produce logical outgrowths, necessary to its functions. After all, I've heard no one object to taking the bus to church, and there were no buses in the Apostles' time.

Thanks for the info. I actually don't have a problem with Icons, whether the Apostles created them or not. I know that they can be reliably traced back to the 2nd and 3rd centuries and no-one had a problem with them as far as I know...

LBK
Thanks, do you know where I can find the rest of the text to the service? (would also love to know if the texts to all the 12 great feasts could be found online - I have been trying to search using google but found nothing complete).

Here is the text for Pascha and the 12 Great Feasts as celebrated by the Antiochian Archdiocese: http://www.antiochianladiocese.org/service_texts_great_feast.html

They include Vespers, Matins, and variable parts of the Divine Liturgy. Smiley
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« Reply #43 on: August 03, 2011, 10:54:47 AM »



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It may have been such common knowledge that they didn't see a need to write it down. They may have assumed it would be passed verbally.

May have been - but the same could be said of any of the main doctrines of the Church - yet they were written down because people know about them, wanted to write about them and preach about them for the instruction of the faithful. Surely something as important as the Mother of God being taken up to heaven and bodily resurrected would have been something to talk about, and yet people in the Church remain silent for 400 years (if anyone knows the actual date, it would be much appreciated). Also, the tradition wasn't uniform either - there were differences in what actually happened by different sources.

The traditions about Mary are one of the last stumbling blocks between me and the Orthodox Church.


What about the Trinity? That is a central teaching that's never spelled out in Scripture. Plus all the Gospels aren't uniform in their narrative so that's no sign of inaccuracy.
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« Reply #44 on: August 03, 2011, 11:58:57 AM »

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What about the Trinity? That is a central teaching that's never spelled out in Scripture. Plus all the Gospels aren't uniform in their narrative so that's no sign of inaccuracy.

True, but the Trinity can be demonstrated to have been a consistant teaching of Christianity from the beginning, whereas the Dormition as a tradition first appears reliably a couple of centuries after Christs death. Besides, writers from the first century onwards wrote about the trinity - not using the same language, but what they say in the fourth century could be accepted in the first.
I am not saying that the Dormition is not true, but surely there has to be a reason why this wasn't written about until many centuries after the dawn of Christianity. Unless, it is a later tradition - is that possible? A later tradition picked up by the Church, but never the less true because it has been accepted by all in the Church, sort of like the Catholic idea of Sensus fidelium? Would that be an unacceptable understanding for Orthodox?

katherineofdixie
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Remember that there is a difference between (T)radition, and (t)radition.

Ok, but where is the limit drawn? For example, I remember reading somewhere that the Russians or Copts have a tradition that details what the Theotokos said when she saw Luke the Evangelist painting the first icon. Big T or little t?
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« Reply #45 on: August 03, 2011, 12:26:28 PM »

I'm not sure if there is a line that is as clear cut as you'd like. If I'm correct, tradition is defined by consensus which (as you've seen here) can be debated. There is freedom in the way tradition is defined but it can also tangle and trap you. At this point the question, why didn't they write it down until then, seems to pretty much be speculation.
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« Reply #46 on: August 03, 2011, 02:17:03 PM »

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Further, if the Tradition were Infallible, there would have to be at least jurisdictional if not Universal canons regarding which writings, fathers, Saints, teachings, etc etc were legitimately Infallible and in which were not.  In Orthodox we have several over lapping Canons, Councils, and Synods, both Universal, jurisdictional, and even local which define the Tradition, but I would not think rigidly enough for Infallibility.

This struck me as well. Many EO would say that the OO churches are Orthodox, and yet they have different traditions, as do the different churches in the EO communion - if tradition is absolutely infallible in the way that it is practiced, then which practice is correct? Tradition being infallible in spirit makes a lot of sense to me.

CBGardner
Quote
It may have been such common knowledge that they didn't see a need to write it down. They may have assumed it would be passed verbally.

May have been - but the same could be said of any of the main doctrines of the Church - yet they were written down because people know about them, wanted to write about them and preach about them for the instruction of the faithful. Surely something as important as the Mother of God being taken up to heaven and bodily resurrected would have been something to talk about, and yet people in the Church remain silent for 400 years (if anyone knows the actual date, it would be much appreciated). Also, the tradition wasn't uniform either - there were differences in what actually happened by different sources.

The traditions about Mary are one of the last stumbling blocks between me and the Orthodox Church.

She was for me too. I didn't get straightened out until I was in the Church.  I was told the Assumption (rather than the Dormition) wasn't dogmatic.  In time, it didn't make sense not to accept it.

This is why the Early Church didn't talk about it, the spurious epistle of St. Ignatius to St. John:
Quote
Ignatius, and the brethren who are with him, to John the holy presbyter.

We are deeply grieved at your delay in strengthening us by your addresses and consolations. If your absence be prolonged, it will disappoint many of us. Hasten then to come, for we believe that it is expedient. There are also many of our women here, who are desirous to see Mary [the mother] of Jesus, and wish day by day to run off from us to you, that they may meet with her, and touch those breasts of hers which nourished the Lord Jesus, and may inquire of her respecting some rather secret matters. But Salome also, [the daughter of Anna,] whom you love, who stayed with her five months at Jerusalem, and some other well-known persons, relate that she is full of all graces and all virtues, after the manner of a virgin, fruitful in virtue and grace. And, as they report, she is cheerful in persecutions and afflictions, free from murmuring in the midst of penury and want, grateful to those that injure her, and rejoices when exposed to troubles: she sympathizes with the wretched and the afflicted as sharing in their afflictions, and is not slow to come to their assistance. Moreover, she shines forth gloriously as contending in the fight of faith against the pernicious conflicts of vicious principles or conduct. She is the lady of our new religion and repentance, and the handmaid among the faithful of all works of piety. She is indeed devoted to the humble, and she humbles herself more devotedly than the devoted, and is wonderfully magnified by all, while at the same time she suffers detraction from the Scribes and Pharisees. Besides these points, many relate to us numerous other things regarding her. We do not, however, go so far as to believe all in every particular; nor do we mention such to you. But, as we are informed by those who are worthy of credit, there is in Mary the mother of Jesus an angelic purity of nature allied with the nature of humanity. And such reports as these have greatly excited our emotions, and urge us eagerly to desire a sight of this (if it be lawful so to speak) heavenly prodigy and most sacred marvel. But do you in haste comply with this our desire; and fare well. Amen.
http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0114.htm
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« Reply #47 on: August 03, 2011, 03:25:36 PM »

Ok, but where is the limit drawn? For example, I remember reading somewhere that the Russians or Copts have a tradition that details what the Theotokos said when she saw Luke the Evangelist painting the first icon. Big T or little t?

FYI -
In the Orthodox Church there are those things which belong to “Holy Tradition” and those things which are simply “traditions” (or, perhaps, better called “customs”). In essential matters—doctrine, sacraments, worship, etc.—there are no differences.
In minor things—the style of vestments, the exact order of services, customs associated with various feast days—there is a wide variety of customs which may be found, as developed in various times and various places based on a wide variety of circumstances. Furthermore, these customs are not, nor were they ever intended to be, that which brings about unity within the Church.
http://oca.org/questions/dailylife/holy-tradition-vs.-customs


Holy Tradition
Another source of Orthodox doctrine is Holy Tradition. This includes the oral tradition, i.e., teachings that have been passed down from one Christian generation to the other since the time of Christ, which may or may not be included in the Bible. It is, if you will, the living consciousness of the Church; its continuity with the Church of the Apostles. For example, the Orthodox practice and believe many things that may not be specifically written in the Bible but may have biblical meanings and/or symbolic Christian truths. For example, doing the sign of the cross, triple immersion in baptism, facing toward the east in prayer, the ever-virginity and all holiness of the Virgin Mary, the various rites, worship services and devotional practices of the Orthodox that have been passed down from one generation to another, etc. Thus, the Orthodox Church bases its doctrine on the Bible, Holy Tradition, writings of the Church Fathers (early successors of the Apostles), and on the various ecclesiastical councils which were held throughout the history of the Church.
www.orthodoxphotos.com
Holy Tradition is the deposit of faith given by Jesus Christ to the Apostles and passed on in the Church from one generation to the next without addition, alteration or subtraction. Vladimir Lossky has famously described the Tradition as "the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church." It is dynamic in application, yet unchanging in dogma. It is growing in expression, yet ever the same in essence.
Unlike many conceptions of tradition in popular understanding, the Orthodox Church does not regard Holy Tradition as something which grows and expands over time, forming a collection of practices and doctrines which accrue, gradually becoming something more developed and eventually unrecognizable to the first Christians. Rather, Holy Tradition is that same faith which Christ taught to the Apostles and which they gave to their disciples, preserved in the whole Church and especially in its leadership through Apostolic Succession.
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Holy_Tradition
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« Reply #48 on: August 08, 2011, 03:27:38 PM »

Been away for a few days so sorry the reply is late.

katherineofdixie Thanks for the clear up regarding small t and big T tradition, it has been very helpful.

Ialmisry

Spurious epistle you say? Is the letter in question early? It also brings to question why letters (I read that many spurious letters were accumulated in later centuries, giving credence to later theological disputes - is this true?) like these would have been written if there was plenty of evidence and witness to these things.

It seems that no one doubted these details about Mary's life in the 4th or 5th centuries, suggesting they are earlier. Do any of the earlier Fathers write about Mary's life or is this a later trend? I am thinking about the Entrance of the Theotokos and the idea that she never married St. Joseph, I am guessing these were thought true by early Fathers.
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« Reply #49 on: August 08, 2011, 09:21:11 PM »

Been away for a few days so sorry the reply is late.

katherineofdixie Thanks for the clear up regarding small t and big T tradition, it has been very helpful.

Ialmisry

Spurious epistle you say? Is the letter in question early? It also brings to question why letters (I read that many spurious letters were accumulated in later centuries, giving credence to later theological disputes - is this true?) like these would have been written if there was plenty of evidence and witness to these things.

It seems that no one doubted these details about Mary's life in the 4th or 5th centuries, suggesting they are earlier. Do any of the earlier Fathers write about Mary's life or is this a later trend? I am thinking about the Entrance of the Theotokos and the idea that she never married St. Joseph, I am guessing these were thought true by early Fathers.

There are several dogmas relating to the Mother of God, such as her ever-virginity, for example. These may or may not have bee discussed by "early" Fathers. (Depending on how you define early.)


One should note, however, that at that time Christ was proclaimed from the rooftops. The teaching about the Mother of God happened in the Church. In other words, it was not for public consumption and criticism.
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« Reply #50 on: August 09, 2011, 10:10:44 AM »

There are several dogmas relating to the Mother of God, such as her ever-virginity, for example. These may or may not have bee discussed by "early" Fathers. (Depending on how you define early.)


One should note, however, that at that time Christ was proclaimed from the rooftops. The teaching about the Mother of God happened in the Church. In other words, it was not for public consumption and criticism.

Fair enough. However, the feast of the Entry into the Temple by the Theotokos destroys, for me, the idea that I was presented with of the Annunciation, where an unknowing young girl is shocked by the angel coming to tell her that she will be the mother of the messiah.
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« Reply #51 on: August 09, 2011, 10:13:10 AM »

There are several dogmas relating to the Mother of God, such as her ever-virginity, for example. These may or may not have bee discussed by "early" Fathers. (Depending on how you define early.)


One should note, however, that at that time Christ was proclaimed from the rooftops. The teaching about the Mother of God happened in the Church. In other words, it was not for public consumption and criticism.

Fair enough. However, the feast of the Entry into the Temple by the Theotokos destroys, for me, the idea that I was presented with of the Annunciation, where an unknowing young girl is shocked by the angel coming to tell her that she will be the mother of the messiah.

Well, that's not how it actually happened. Rejoice, you know better now.
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« Reply #52 on: August 09, 2011, 12:46:29 PM »

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Well, that's not how it actually happened. Rejoice, you know better now.

While I certainly hope that this will one day be the case, I still have reservations.

Why does St. Luke describe the Virgin as if she was just another person? I'm not saying that it couldn't have happened because it is not described in theBible, but she is not exactly made out to have had a special life.

Quote
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

People would have known her, surely, if she entered the Holy of Holies?

And why was Mary "greatly troubled" at the angels words? Considering what had been said before to and about her, you would have thought she would have known this.

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29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
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« Reply #53 on: August 09, 2011, 01:05:34 PM »

Why does St. Luke describe the Virgin as if she was just another person? I'm not saying that it couldn't have happened because it is not described in theBible, but she is not exactly made out to have had a special life.

Except that an angel appeared to her and said she was highly favored of God?

Perhaps St Luke did not feel the Theotokos' backstory was appropriate material for the Gospel of Christ. Given what some Protestants believe about her, I wish he had written some other things, but we we know about her life from other sources.

People would have known her, surely, if she entered the Holy of Holies?

Not necessarily. Only the priests were allowed in the Holy Place, so it could easily have been kept quiet. I personally feel that those who saw this event were somehow divinely made to accept it. If it had been met with the expected horror I would expect that the story would have happened differently.

And why was Mary "greatly troubled" at the angels words? Considering what had been said before to and about her, you would have thought she would have known this.

She was exceedingly humble. A mark of humility is a feeling of unworthiness before God—even though the Theotokos was the most worthy woman who ever lived.
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« Reply #54 on: August 09, 2011, 08:19:43 PM »

People would have known her, surely, if she entered the Holy of Holies?

Quote
Not necessarily. Only the priests were allowed in the Holy Place, so it could easily have been kept quiet. I personally feel that those who saw this event were somehow divinely made to accept it. If it had been met with the expected horror I would expect that the story would have happened differently.

The hymnography for the feast of the Entry into the Temple clearly states, on more than one occasion, that the young Virgin did not only enter, but also dwelled in the Holy of Holies. Here are some examples:

The spotless maiden is led by the Holy Spirit to dwell in the Holy of Holies. She, who is truly the most holy temple of our holy God, is fed by an angel. He has sanctified all things by her entry, and has made godlike the fallen nature of mortal men.

With their lamps in hand, the maidens rejoice today as they go in reverence before the spiritual lamp, who enters into the Holy of Holies. They foreshadow the Brightness beyond words that is to shine forth from her, to illumine with the Spirit those that sit in the darkness of ignorance.

After your birth, O Mistress and Bride of God, you came to dwell in the temple of the Lord to be brought up in the Holy of Holies, for you are holy. Gabriel was sent to bring food to you, the undefiled virgin. O Mother of God, without blemish or stain, who is glorified in heaven and on earth, intercede for us.


Lex orandi, lex credendi.
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« Reply #55 on: August 10, 2011, 03:18:15 AM »

LBK
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The hymnography for the feast of the Entry into the Temple clearly states, on more than one occasion, that the young Virgin did not only enter, but also dwelled in the Holy of Holies. Here are some examples:

The spotless maiden is led by the Holy Spirit to dwell in the Holy of Holies. She, who is truly the most holy temple of our holy God, is fed by an angel. He has sanctified all things by her entry, and has made godlike the fallen nature of mortal men.

With their lamps in hand, the maidens rejoice today as they go in reverence before the spiritual lamp, who enters into the Holy of Holies. They foreshadow the Brightness beyond words that is to shine forth from her, to illumine with the Spirit those that sit in the darkness of ignorance.

After your birth, O Mistress and Bride of God, you came to dwell in the temple of the Lord to be brought up in the Holy of Holies, for you are holy. Gabriel was sent to bring food to you, the undefiled virgin. O Mother of God, without blemish or stain, who is glorified in heaven and on earth, intercede for us.

Lex orandi, lex credendi.

Ok, and my questions would then be: Are there any historical references to this (plus other details surrounding the feast) outside the Protoevangelium , do the early Fathers (C1st 2nd 3rd) believe this happened, and why does the Church take inspiration in one of its major feasts from a book such as the protoevagelium, which as I understand it is spurious and pseudoepigriphal in the least, heretical and blasphemous at worst?
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« Reply #56 on: August 10, 2011, 03:44:37 AM »

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and why does the Church take inspiration in one of its major feasts from a book such as the protoevagelium, which as I understand it is spurious and pseudoepigriphal in the least, heretical and blasphemous at worst?

The Protoevangelion informs and underpins several feasts dedicated to the Mother of God, and many Theotokia (specific hymns written to her, sung throughout the liturgical cycle), as well as influencing the hymnography for St Joseph the Betrothed. It has also contributed imagery which has become part of Orthodox iconographic tradition. Just one example of many: In icons of the Annunciation, the Mother of God is often shown holding a spindle on which is wound scarlet or purple yarn. This motif is derived from the Protoevangelion, not Scripture (as is much of what we know and accept about the Mother of God), and is also reflected in this beautiful Theotokion:

O pure Virgin, the flesh of Emmanuel was formed within your womb as a robe of royal crimson is spun from scarlet silk. We proclaim you to be truly the Mother of our God.

To call the Protoevangelion "spurious", "heretical" or "blasphemous" is to say the same about a very great deal of what the Orthodox Church proclaims and teaches about the Mother of God. I reiterate: The Church has seen it fit to regard the Protoevangelion as safe, useful, and consistent with Apostolic teaching.
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« Reply #57 on: August 10, 2011, 06:02:11 AM »

My mistake about the "blasphemous/heretical" bit. I was mistaking it for another infancy gospel which has Christ kill and raise from the dead a young boy.

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To call the Protoevangelion "spurious", "heretical" or "blasphemous" is to say the same about a very great deal of what the Orthodox Church proclaims and teaches about the Mother of God. I reiterate: The Church has seen it fit to regard the Protoevangelion as safe, useful, and consistent with Apostolic teaching.

Well, is it not pseudepigraphal?
Were there really "temple virgins" or is this copied from paganism?
It also has St. Joseph subjected to the "bitter waters" trial, something reserved only for women.
Tell me how the PE can be reliable with these details?

Just out of interest, the high priest in question Zacharias is not present in the list of high priests on wikipedia, anyone have any reliable sources regarding him?

Edited for Spelling
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« Reply #58 on: August 10, 2011, 06:21:45 AM »

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Just out of interest, the high priest in question Zacharias is not present in the list of high priests on wikipedia, anyone have any reliable sources regarding him?

Yes. The first chapter in the Gospel of Luke. Righteous Zacharias is also commemorated liturgically by the Orthodox on September 5, as well as being mentioned in the hymnography for the feast of the entry into the Temple of the Mother of God, and the Nativity of St John the Baptist.

Quote
Were there really "temple virgins" or is this copied from paganism?

It is a common misunderstanding that the maidens in the Temple were "temple virgins" in the pagan sense. I can PM you an explanation if you like.

Quote
Well, is it not pseudoepigraphal?


This word simply means that it is possible St James the Brother of the Lord did not write the Protoevangelion himself. It does not mean that the contents of the Protoevangelion are heretical or inconsistent with Apostolic teaching. "Pseudoepigraphical" is a bit like "apocryphal": both words developed a loaded and negative shade of meaning following the protestant reformation.
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« Reply #59 on: August 10, 2011, 07:07:15 AM »

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Yes. The first chapter in the Gospel of Luke. Righteous Zacharias is also commemorated liturgically by the Orthodox on September 5, as well as being mentioned in the hymnography for the feast of the entry into the Temple of the Mother of God, and the Nativity of St John the Baptist.

I thought he was just an "ordinary" priest, not the high priest as stated in the PE? Though I did remember reading somewhere that other priests would sometimes take on high priestly roles. But outside the bible, is there anything? It is strange, if it is the case, that the Jews do not have records for him - or maybe it isn't?

Quote
It is a common misunderstanding that the maidens in the Temple were "temple virgins" in the pagan sense. I can PM you an explanation if you like.

Thanks, that would be great  Smiley

Quote
This word simply means that it is possible St James the Brother of the Lord did not write the Protoevangelion himself. It does not mean that the contents of the Protoevangelion are heretical or inconsistent with Apostolic teaching. "Pseudoepigraphical" is a bit like "apocryphal": both words developed a loaded and negative shade of meaning following the protestant reformation.

I guess, but everything I have read about the PE from a scholarly point of view, which is not much, is that it is a forgery and made up to inspire devotion in early Christians who wanted to know about the early life of Christ. Besides, if it wasn't authored by St. James then the author is lying, which doesn't make the rest of the contents look too good.

And what about the bitter waters depiction?

Forgot to reply to bogdan:

Quote
Except that an angel appeared to her and said she was highly favored of God?

Perhaps St Luke did not feel the Theotokos' backstory was appropriate material for the Gospel of Christ. Given what some Protestants believe about her, I wish he had written some other things, but we we know about her life from other sources.

What I meant was that she had met angels before, seen miracles, and none of it is mentioned. It is as if she is just an ordinary person, which considering her previous life story, she is not. I am not saying that St. Luke had to put the details in, it is just a little odd that he didn't at least make out that she wasn't just some ramdom person who happened to be a virgin, which is how most protestants understand the story, and how I, living in an protestant country, have always known it.

Quote
She was exceedingly humble. A mark of humility is a feeling of unworthiness before God—even though the Theotokos was the most worthy woman who ever lived.

I am sure she was, otherwise she could not have been the mother of Christ. But, "greatly troubled" makes it out as if she had no clue, that this was something frighteneing and new, rather than something she and those around her knew about from an early age.
Consider this from one of the hymns, vespers of the Feast of the Entry:

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And Zachariah the great High Priest receiveth her rejoicing since she is God’s abode.

Quote
With joy the all-extolled Anna cried to Zachariah, saying, Receive thou her of whom the Prophets of God did preach in the Spirit, and take her into the holy Temple to be brought up in purity that she may become a divine throne to the Lord of all, a palace, a couch, and a shining abode.

Quote
Having openly enjoyed the divine grace, Anna, rejoicing, presenteth the pure ever-virgin one in the Temple, calling the maidens to present her, as they carry lamps, saying, Go forth, my daughter, to Him Who gave thee to me. Be thou to Him a vow, an incense of sweet odor. Enter thou unto the veiled ones and learn the mysteries. Prepare thyself to become a delightful abode unto Jesus Who granteth the world the Great Mercy.

They make it out as if they all knew she would bear the Word of God into the world. Or should these not be understood literally?
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« Reply #60 on: August 17, 2011, 04:46:31 AM »

*bump*

I would very much like to know how to understand the sections of hymns in the above post.

Thanks,
Wolf
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« Reply #61 on: August 17, 2011, 10:50:22 AM »

Well, Wolfy, I went through your post and tried to get your questions sifted out.  As for 'understanding' the hymnody, you won't understand all of it now.  A lot of it is poetic language and makes references to subjects that even I'm not always up on.  That's because the writers were referring to things in their time which we no longer learn about in school or simply forget because they are not 'relevant' to normal life.

Here are your specific questions and my responses.

But outside the bible, is there anything?

Well, even if you are a Protestant, there lots of things outside the Bible, including your interpretations which are projected onto the Scripture.  Christianity existed 400 years prior to the establishment of the corpus of Scripture, and during that time there was lots of accumulated knowledge which the Church preserves and hands down.

It is strange, if it is the case, that the Jews do not have records for him - or maybe it isn't?

Remember 70 AD?  Jerusalem was flattened by the Romans, so expecting lots of records to hang around is a bit high on the expectations scale.

And what about the bitter waters depiction?

Sorry, I don't understand this question.

In conclusion, Orthodoxy is not effectively 'understood' in the strictly intellectual sense.  It is something that must be grasped spiritually.  If you are ruled only by your emotions (as with most folks today) or your intellect (which is the realm of most inquirers), Orthodoxy will be very difficult to grasp.  St. Paul makes mention of how Jews and Greeks both tended to have expectations of proof contrary to what God offers as proof.

You will have to experience the Church in order to grasp its reality.



*bump*

I would very much like to know how to understand the sections of hymns in the above post.

Thanks,
Wolf
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« Reply #62 on: August 17, 2011, 11:37:48 AM »

Western people, for some reason, seem to crave a form of infallibility. Some want a source to turn to, others seek out gurus who will tell them what to do. It's like they take comfort in surrendering personal responsibility.

Gurus are Eastern.

Your point?

Guru-ism is very common amongst Westerners, both those flocking to Hindoo gurus in the West and India, and those flocking to real or imagined holy elders in Orthodoxy.

Don't you think that amongst Protestants there are many who are devotees of certain preachers?
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« Reply #63 on: August 17, 2011, 12:03:52 PM »

Well, even if you are a Protestant, there lots of things outside the Bible, including your interpretations which are projected onto the Scripture.  Christianity existed 400 years prior to the establishment of the corpus of Scripture, and during that time there was lots of accumulated knowledge which the Church preserves and hands down.

I'm not a protestant, at least, not formally. I do live in a protestant country though, and what little of Christianity I learnt as a child had a protestant bias that is hard to shake, it's true. I see your point about the temple being destroyed though.

Sorry, I don't understand this question.

The protoevangelion of St. James says that St. Joseph underwent the trial of the bitter waters, something that historically was reserved for women, as a test of their celibacy (I think). I'm not too sure of the specifics. This inclusion has been used by scholars to show that the PE is basically nonsense, and the author has no idea what he is talking about or what Jewish tradition was really like. Hence, temple virgins, Mary in the holy of holies, St. Joseph and the theotokos not being married ect. At least, that is what they say. I'm not saying that this is the case, but it seems a strong argument from those who make it.

In conclusion, Orthodoxy is not effectively 'understood' in the strictly intellectual sense.  It is something that must be grasped spiritually.  If you are ruled only by your emotions (as with most folks today) or your intellect (which is the realm of most inquirers), Orthodoxy will be very difficult to grasp.  St. Paul makes mention of how Jews and Greeks both tended to have expectations of proof contrary to what God offers as proof.

You will have to experience the Church in order to grasp its reality.
[/font]

I take your point. It is just very hard to accept these things from an intellectual point of view. I'm trying to work on it though.
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« Reply #64 on: August 17, 2011, 12:21:05 PM »


Quote
The protoevangelion of St. James says that St. Joseph underwent the trial of the bitter waters, something that historically was reserved for women, as a test of their celibacy (I think). I'm not too sure of the specifics. This inclusion has been used by scholars to show that the PE is basically nonsense, and the author has no idea what he is talking about or what Jewish tradition was really like. Hence, temple virgins, Mary in the holy of holies, St. Joseph and the theotokos not being married ect. At least, that is what they say. I'm not saying that this is the case, but it seems a strong argument from those who make it.

Orthodox hymnographic and iconographic tradition state that the 40-day-old Christ was presented to the Symeon the Righteous at the Temple by the Virgin, not by St Joseph. This is contrary to established Jewish custom at the time (that the father presents the child). The earthly life of Christ is full of such contradictions to the established order, be it His conception and birth by a Virgin, His miracles, His resurrection. Similarly, hymnography and iconography attest to the three-year-old daughter of Joachim and Anna not only entering the Temple, but entering and dwelling in the Holy of Holies itself, in preparation for the astounding and incomprehensible task of bearing the Son of God.

These are but a few examples of the many paradoxes of salvation history. So why would it be beyond possibility that Joseph was subjected to the trial of bitter waters? The testimony of Orthodox hymnography, iconography, and Orthodox saints and fathers are the standards to follow, not the musings of modern scholars, particularly those outside the Orthodox fold.
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« Reply #65 on: August 17, 2011, 12:27:53 PM »

I will try to make a more thorough reply layer, but in regards to the hymns:

It is important to keep in mind that hymns and icons usually are concerned with presenting a spiritual reality, not so much with chronological or spatial accuracy. In the historical timeline, Joachim and Anna never knew that the Theotokos would give birth to God Incarnate, or that his name would be Jesus. In this sense, the hymns take poetic license.

The hard thing is determining the difference between poetic license, fact, and inaccuracy. Those questions just take time and vetting by the Church. But this feast has been known for many centuries, and by the guidance of the Spirit, it has generally been sorted out.

[edit] In regards to seemingly odd practices by the Jews, I think we may underestimate the Hellenization of Hebrew culture in the first century. This was not the pure, untainted Judaism of King David's day. The Jews had been ravaged and conquered for centuries, carried off into exile, and I think it's actually more unreasonable to think they had not accumulated any pagan influences in the Jewish religion, such as temple virgins.
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« Reply #66 on: August 17, 2011, 12:28:59 PM »

One thing that's always puzzled me: once one accepts that there is a God, omnipotent, eternal, Creator, and that He chose to become one of us (and that seems like the biggest leap to me), then why balk at details?


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« Reply #67 on: August 17, 2011, 12:38:00 PM »

One thing that's always puzzled me: once one accepts that there is a God, omnipotent, eternal, Creator, and that He chose to become one of us (and that seems like the biggest leap to me), then why balk at details?

EXACTLY!! Thank you, sister, that's precisely my point.
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« Reply #68 on: August 17, 2011, 02:18:12 PM »

One thing that's always puzzled me: once one accepts that there is a God, omnipotent, eternal, Creator, and that He chose to become one of us (and that seems like the biggest leap to me), then why balk at details?

EXACTLY!! Thank you, sister, that's precisely my point.

It is far easier for me to accept the former, than any that tradition can be proved not to, or has an unreliable, basis in historical reality. It is not that I have a problem with miraculous things happening around Christ and the Church, but rather the manner in which they are handed down or are adopted into church tradition.
I know that to test tradition, scripture, or any part of Orthodoxy is not the right approach, but it is hard to see these things things as "details" when you have many Churches with many competing claims, and it is hard not the see the Orthodox Church as a part of that.
The fact is, these things things are not minor details, but major feasts and traditions.
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« Reply #69 on: August 17, 2011, 02:52:31 PM »

It is far easier for me to accept the former, than any that tradition can be proved not to, or has an unreliable, basis in historical reality.
Historical reality is in the eye of the beholder. It's pretty much impossible to either prove or disprove a (T)radition based on "historical reality," which is open to interpretation. What can be proven is that the Church has accepted these things and celebrated them. What makes me think that I am smarter than the Christians who have gone before me were? Or know better than they did?

Quote
It is not that I have a problem with miraculous things happening around Christ and the Church, but rather the manner in which they are handed down or are adopted into church tradition.
I don't understand this at all, so I'm at a disadvantage in discussing it. You trust the Church to hand down and adopt or verify the Holy Scripture but not anything else? That is simply an opinion.

Quote
I know that to test tradition, scripture, or any part of Orthodoxy is not the right approach
But what are you testing it against? Your own opinions/understanding/knowledge? Any one of us can be wrong and veer off the path. It is the collective witness, discernment and understanding of the Church that we should test our own opinions against.

Quote
but it is hard to see these things things as "details" when you have many Churches with many competing claims, and it is hard not the see the Orthodox Church as a part of that.
There may be competing churches but there is only one Church, whether or not you agree with her teachings and beliefs.

Quote
The fact is, these things things are not minor details, but major feasts and traditions.

But still details. Our task is not to second-guess the Church but to try to discern the lessons to be learned from the feasts and fasts and (T)radition as well as (t)radition. We have a lot to learn.
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« Reply #70 on: August 17, 2011, 04:53:19 PM »

katherineofdixie :

After many attempts at a reply, here are my thoughts:

You are right. For someone outside the Church, or at least, speaking of myself, I am working on a completely different basis that someone inside the Church is. It requires a complete change of mindset to accept things against your better judgement, to accept, for example, the resurrection is true, so the rest must be also. At least for myself, it is easier to reject the resurrection because the rest can't be true. See what I mean? It is not possible for me at the moment to approach the Church in the way you are describing.
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« Reply #71 on: August 18, 2011, 09:54:41 AM »

katherineofdixie :

After many attempts at a reply, here are my thoughts:

You are right. For someone outside the Church, or at least, speaking of myself, I am working on a completely different basis that someone inside the Church is. It requires a complete change of mindset to accept things against your better judgement, to accept, for example, the resurrection is true, so the rest must be also. At least for myself, it is easier to reject the resurrection because the rest can't be true. See what I mean? It is not possible for me at the moment to approach the Church in the way you are describing.

Spot on. That is exactly what I was saying, but you said it more clearly than I did! If the Resurrection is true, so the rest must be also. That pretty much settles it for me.

As far as "better judgement" : I have made some whopping errors/mistakes in my own life, so even though I have more than my share of intellectual arrogance and pride (not saying you do, but I'm used to pretty much being the smartest one in the room), I have at long last begun to realize that the beginning of wisdom is the willingness to accept that one is not nearly as smart as one thinks one is, and that there is at least the theoretical possibility that one could be wrong about something.

(wonder if that last sentence qualifies as one of the top ten longest sentences in a post?)

FWIW, before I became Orthodox, I was "leaning on my own understanding" only, as well. It was quite a relief to discover the Fathers and the Church had figured all this out long before.
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« Reply #72 on: August 18, 2011, 10:54:08 AM »

Spot on. That is exactly what I was saying, but you said it more clearly than I did! If the Resurrection is true, so the rest must be also. That pretty much settles it for me.

As far as "better judgement" : I have made some whopping errors/mistakes in my own life, so even though I have more than my share of intellectual arrogance and pride (not saying you do, but I'm used to pretty much being the smartest one in the room), I have at long last begun to realize that the beginning of wisdom is the willingness to accept that one is not nearly as smart as one thinks one is, and that there is at least the theoretical possibility that one could be wrong about something.

(wonder if that last sentence qualifies as one of the top ten longest sentences in a post?)

FWIW, before I became Orthodox, I was "leaning on my own understanding" only, as well. It was quite a relief to discover the Fathers and the Church had figured all this out long before.

It is quite overwhelming when in you realise that in authentic Christianity, it is all or nothing. Either the Church has preserved everything or it has not and cannot be what it claims it is.  
Now that I have thought about it more, it doesn't really make sense that those who knew Jesus and the Apostles (2nd century Christians) would accept traditions that they knew were false, because they were sent to death for believing it. And, they would have known truth from lies because they knew the Apostles, perhaps even Christs mother, firsthand.
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« Reply #73 on: August 18, 2011, 11:09:15 AM »

Either the Church has preserved everything or it has not and cannot be what it claims it is.  
Now that I have thought about it more, it doesn't really make sense that those who knew Jesus and the Apostles (2nd century Christians) would accept traditions that they knew were false, because they were sent to death for believing it. And, they would have known truth from lies because they knew the Apostles, perhaps even Christs mother, firsthand.

Exactamundo! You are approaching enlightenment, grasshopper!
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« Reply #74 on: August 18, 2011, 10:48:45 PM »

It is quite overwhelming when in you realise that in authentic Christianity, it is all or nothing. Either the Church has preserved everything or it has not and cannot be what it claims it is.  
Now that I have thought about it more, it doesn't really make sense that those who knew Jesus and the Apostles (2nd century Christians) would accept traditions that they knew were false, because they were sent to death for believing it. And, they would have known truth from lies because they knew the Apostles, perhaps even Christs mother, firsthand.

Nice work, wolf. You're starting to get the hang of it.  Smiley
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« Reply #75 on: August 20, 2011, 02:24:17 AM »

You know the hardest thing for me to deal with as a convert of 6 years is the reference to the hymography for doctrine. That folks quote songs as proof that something is true seems ridiculous. Is there something I'm missing here? After all through the centuries songs have been written in every religion, but that doesn't make them historically accurate. Why don't the Orthodox use historical documents when trying to prove their points instead of a hymn written by one or two individuals?
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« Reply #76 on: August 20, 2011, 04:44:06 AM »

You know the hardest thing for me to deal with as a convert of 6 years is the reference to the hymography for doctrine. That folks quote songs as proof that something is true seems ridiculous. Is there something I'm missing here? After all through the centuries songs have been written in every religion, but that doesn't make them historically accurate. Why don't the Orthodox use historical documents when trying to prove their points instead of a hymn written by one or two individuals?

The longtime usage them by the  Church makes them accurate.
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« Reply #77 on: August 20, 2011, 05:02:26 PM »

I'm not sure why length of use would prove something's accuracy. Is there someone out there who can explain why songs are used to prove historical accuracy? Is it more the author of the hymns and their trustworthiness that cause them to be resourced as historical documents? Huh
 ???Has anyone ever written a book about hymnography and why we should take the songs' content as, (excuse me), 'gospel truth?' I'm trying to understand this and just haven't heard any explanation for this practice. I don't post much here, but I've been visiting the site weekly for over 6 years, and have always wondered about it. I've read a lot of Orthodox books where hymns are quoted as if they're the Bible itself-and where would they fit into 'Tradition?' Did someone write a song and someone else say,"yeah, yeah that's right that sounds good, we'll use that to teach historical truth."
As a convert this still troubles me, so if someone knows how this all came about I sure would love to hear or be directed to a book that explains about it.
Thanks!
Robin
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« Reply #78 on: August 21, 2011, 11:25:02 PM »

Is there something I'm missing here?

Perhaps faith?

Our hymnology is not the opinion of a few individuals but the faith of the Church expressed.
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« Reply #79 on: August 22, 2011, 02:58:01 AM »

Anyone out there who knows any books or documents explaining the reason for choosing hymns to establish historical information or doctrinal beliefs or "Traditional" beliefs, mindsets or practices?
You can have 'faith' in anything. The word by itself out of context is obscure. Being created in the image and likeness of God we are also supposed to use our God-given brains and not check them at the door. I get tired of reading comments that a person should just believe something because it's written down. That reminds me of many a cult.
Again why does the Orthodox Church quote hymns as if they're the Bible? Who started that practice? I've read many articles that talk about something supposedly historical in the church and then they quote a hymn that supposedly proves it. 
I can understand if something happened and someone wrote a song about it, but the song itself proves nothing. Or is a hymn considered a historical document?
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« Reply #80 on: August 22, 2011, 08:46:54 AM »

Again why does the Orthodox Church quote hymns as if they're the Bible? Who started that practice? I've read many articles that talk about something supposedly historical in the church and then they quote a hymn that supposedly proves it. 
I can understand if something happened and someone wrote a song about it, but the song itself proves nothing. Or is a hymn considered a historical document?


Because the Orthodox Church believes what she prays, and so the corporate prayer of the Church must be accurate. I don't think anyone here is treating hymns like inspired scripture, but it makes sense that they would be accurate in essence, even if not in detail, because they are an expression of holy tradition. The Church had hymns long before it pronounced the new testament as scripture. That is not to say that the hymns do not use poetry or are completely literal in every sense.
Having faith in the Church, that she preserves correct tradition, and having faith in said traditions is not the same as the "saving faith" in Christ and the resurrection, and nor does it ignore reason or critical thinking.
Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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« Reply #81 on: August 22, 2011, 11:01:29 AM »

Because the Orthodox Church believes what she prays, and so the corporate prayer of the Church must be accurate. I don't think anyone here is treating hymns like inspired scripture, but it makes sense that they would be accurate in essence, even if not in detail, because they are an expression of holy tradition. The Church had hymns long before it pronounced the new testament as scripture. That is not to say that the hymns do not use poetry or are completely literal in every sense.
Having faith in the Church, that she preserves correct tradition, and having faith in said traditions is not the same as the "saving faith" in Christ and the resurrection, and nor does it ignore reason or critical thinking.
Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Sounds fine to me!  Kiss
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« Reply #82 on: August 22, 2011, 01:17:34 PM »

Why would one profess Orthodoxy and not believe what the Orthodox Church preaches in her Scriptures, her councils, her creed, her liturgy, her hymns, the lives and sermons of her saints, etc.? We don't pick and choose what suits our taste. Rather, we submit to the truth as revealed to us by God through the teaching of the Church. Even if there are things we don't understand, we accept them. For goodness sake, the hymns do not contain any doctrine stranger than what is in Scripture--a virgin birth, a Messiah crucified--things which are foolishness to those who are perishing, so why is it so hart to accept the other, smaller things? We have not only to come into the Church in body through baptism and Chrismation, but to transform our hearts and minds--to bring them into the Church and align them with the mind of the Church, the very mind of Christ. If we cannot do this, we should at least acknowledge that the problem lies not with the Church but with our weakness and we should ask for God's help.
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« Reply #83 on: August 22, 2011, 01:24:02 PM »

here is the thing, in Orthodoxy we don't know the word infallible or vaild in the western sense, maybe in some sense we could relate the words to an idea or notion that us Eastern Christians believe. 
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« Reply #84 on: August 22, 2011, 01:28:06 PM »

Capital T Traditions, as in the Deposit of Faith are non-negotiable.  This would be the "word of Truth" that we pray our bishop may rightfully divide during Liturgy.  Small traditions, lower-case t traditions are negotiable as long as they aren't formed to wrongly display or teach the Deposit of Faith.  Greeks hand out red eggs at Pascha and Ukrainians decorate eggs in the Pysanky style for Pashca.  Two small traditions that obviously differ.  But the big ones, like the Death and Ressurection of Christ three days later is a non-negotiable Tradition/belief that none of us can change or teach differently (and still be a part of the Church).
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« Reply #85 on: August 29, 2011, 12:29:24 AM »

thank you to the section moderator (username!) for attempting to answer my questions. I'm afraid I wasn't very clear in what I was asking and should have provided an example of what I meant. It was from nothing I've found on this site; it was articles I've read elsewhere that made a point and then followed by quoting a hymn. I managed to get ahold of my priest and he had time to explain the use of hymns and their history which made it much clearer. I'm still struggling with a protestant mindset developed over 35 years and some things confuse me. The priest is busy but very happy to explain things when something is troubling someone which I appreciate.
So I learned something that someone may ask me about someday. There's a scripture that talks about studying to find yourself approved so that you may give an account of what you believe to someone who asks. 
Some people (like my husband) just accept things without being interested in more information. But I like to know all that can be known about some things. God has chosen to make us all alittle different I think.
Sorry if I offended anyone. I think I'll just keep reading and not do any more posting. Grin
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« Reply #86 on: August 29, 2011, 02:59:49 AM »

feel free to post anytime you have questions. if we dont get it at first, just clarify to us what you're trying to ask, we'll get it eventually Smiley
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« Reply #87 on: August 29, 2011, 03:25:31 AM »

Anyone out there who knows any books or documents explaining the reason for choosing hymns to establish historical information or doctrinal beliefs or "Traditional" beliefs, mindsets or practices?
You can have 'faith' in anything. The word by itself out of context is obscure. Being created in the image and likeness of God we are also supposed to use our God-given brains and not check them at the door. I get tired of reading comments that a person should just believe something because it's written down. That reminds me of many a cult.
Again why does the Orthodox Church quote hymns as if they're the Bible? Who started that practice? I've read many articles that talk about something supposedly historical in the church and then they quote a hymn that supposedly proves it. 
I can understand if something happened and someone wrote a song about it, but the song itself proves nothing. Or is a hymn considered a historical document?

It's more like the opinion of a judge saying what the law says.  If your interpretation of scripture contradicts how the Church (as evidenced, for example, by our hymns), you are wrong, just as if your interpretation of the law contradicts the judge.  If the hymn didn't express the mind of the Church, we would reject it.
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« Reply #88 on: August 29, 2011, 05:27:13 AM »

I'm not sure why length of use would prove something's accuracy. Is there someone out there who can explain why songs are used to prove historical accuracy? Is it more the author of the hymns and their trustworthiness that cause them to be resourced as historical documents? Huh
 ???Has anyone ever written a book about hymnography and why we should take the songs' content as, (excuse me), 'gospel truth?' I'm trying to understand this and just haven't heard any explanation for this practice. I don't post much here, but I've been visiting the site weekly for over 6 years, and have always wondered about it. I've read a lot of Orthodox books where hymns are quoted as if they're the Bible itself-and where would they fit into 'Tradition?' Did someone write a song and someone else say,"yeah, yeah that's right that sounds good, we'll use that to teach historical truth."
As a convert this still troubles me, so if someone knows how this all came about I sure would love to hear or be directed to a book that explains about it.
Thanks!
Robin

Hymns and tradition = valid historical documents. You believe history you believe them. Don't believe them then you can go by Sola Imagination and that may mean to stop thinking and do day dreaming.
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« Reply #89 on: August 29, 2011, 10:11:45 AM »

Sola Imagination

LOL! So true... Grin
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« Reply #90 on: August 30, 2011, 02:46:05 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Quote
The protoevangelion of St. James says that St. Joseph underwent the trial of the bitter waters, something that historically was reserved for women, as a test of their celibacy (I think). I'm not too sure of the specifics. This inclusion has been used by scholars to show that the PE is basically nonsense, and the author has no idea what he is talking about or what Jewish tradition was really like. Hence, temple virgins, Mary in the holy of holies, St. Joseph and the theotokos not being married ect. At least, that is what they say. I'm not saying that this is the case, but it seems a strong argument from those who make it.

Orthodox hymnographic and iconographic tradition state that the 40-day-old Christ was presented to the Symeon the Righteous at the Temple by the Virgin, not by St Joseph. This is contrary to established Jewish custom at the time (that the father presents the child). The earthly life of Christ is full of such contradictions to the established order, be it His conception and birth by a Virgin, His miracles, His resurrection. Similarly, hymnography and iconography attest to the three-year-old daughter of Joachim and Anna not only entering the Temple, but entering and dwelling in the Holy of Holies itself, in preparation for the astounding and incomprehensible task of bearing the Son of God.

These are but a few examples of the many paradoxes of salvation history. So why would it be beyond possibility that Joseph was subjected to the trial of bitter waters? The testimony of Orthodox hymnography, iconography, and Orthodox saints and fathers are the standards to follow, not the musings of modern scholars, particularly those outside the Orthodox fold.

There is nothing against Judaism in any other those references, the 40-day is straight out of Leviticus, the circumcision on the 8th day happened int the home, the presentation in the Temple occurred after the Mothers' ritual purification, much as we in Ethiopian Orthodox maintain to this day in baptizing our children on the 40th and 80th day after Birth. Further, His miracles often fit right in accordance with Jewish law and Jewish expectations and Jewish symbolism, one of my favorite being the sending out the Legion of demons into the herds of swine (which obviously insinuated the Jews would be safe)  In regards to the Protoevangelium, that particular medieval text is indeed pseudogospel, however the events which are also correlated into hymn, lectionary readings, and the Sinaxarium are legitimate tradition,  not extrapolations or exaggerations. We can be assured that these references within Tradition are themselves accurate, it is not these in the proteevanulem that are not Orthodox so much as that text itself.  We use the Orthodox versions within our Hymns and writings which tell of the same stories.
Protestants scripturalist are always trying to find :ah ha" moments, but it most often based upon ideological misinterpretation and willfull ignorance of the Orthodox.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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