Author Topic: The Role of the Old Testament in the Life of the Church  (Read 1036 times)

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Offline Severian

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The Role of the Old Testament in the Life of the Church
« on: August 02, 2011, 01:04:11 AM »
So, what is the role of the Old Testament in the life of the Church?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 01:04:19 AM by Severian »
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [...] These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -The Lord Jesus Christ

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Online Asteriktos

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Re: The Role of the Old Testament in the Life of the Church
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2011, 01:11:44 AM »
Good question... and I don't claim to know   :angel:  I will say that the early Church Fathers seemed to be extremely literate when it came to the Old Testament, but I'm not sure that such literacy is nearly as prevalent these days.  ...if you're EO (not sure about others?), when you participate in--or even just read--the marriage service, it's filled with Old Testament people, but how much of it really sinks in? I think it's supposed to inform our beliefs and practices, but as to how much it actually does that, I don't know.

EDIT--Link to the Eastern Orthodox marriage service
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 01:13:04 AM by Asteriktos »

Offline Severian

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Re: The Role of the Old Testament in the Life of the Church
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2011, 01:13:01 AM »
Thanks for contributing, Asteriktos.
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [...] These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -The Lord Jesus Christ

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Offline Clare G.

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Re: The Role of the Old Testament in the Life of the Church
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2011, 03:08:23 AM »
The Old Testament is often read at Vespers. Yesterday, for example, the readings for Vespers for the Feast of Prophet Elias (old calendar) comprised chapters 17-19 of 3 Kingdoms, plus most of chapter 2 of 4 Kingdoms. That's a goodly sized portion of OT.

Offline Severian

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Re: The Role of the Old Testament in the Life of the Church
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2011, 02:16:14 PM »
--Bump--
"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [...] These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -The Lord Jesus Christ

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Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: The Role of the Old Testament in the Life of the Church
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2011, 03:44:35 PM »
As you know, the Psalms play a massive role in the Orthodox Church.
Quote from: Fr. Thomas Hopko, dystopian parable of the prodigal son
...you can imagine so-called healing services of the pigpen. The books that could be written, you know: Life in the Pigpen. How to Cope in the Pigpen. Being Happy in the Pigpen. Surviving in the Pigpen. And then there could be counselling, for people who feel unhappy in the pigpen, to try to get them to come to terms with the pigpen, and to accept the pigpen.

Offline HabteSelassie

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Re: The Role of the Old Testament in the Life of the Church
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2011, 07:42:35 PM »
Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I often teach in my sunday school classes that the Old Testament is the story of the family of Jesus Christ, just as we all preserve and transmit our own family histories.  It is the story of the interaction between God and a single family line which inevitably brought forth the birth of Our Savior to save the entire world.  It also helps us to make sense of the complicated narratives of history, by giving purpose to the multi-layered stories of the past.  We come to understand that world empires are brought about to create the circumstances of God's plan for Salvation.  Each piece, though seemingly independent, actually interlocks and functions in tandem with the Holy Family, from Adam through Abraham, David through Our Lady and Our Lord Jesus Christ.  When we read these allegorical and typological stories, we can also help make sense of our interactions with history, the present, and the future.  We can see ourselves in these stories, and find deeper meaning, purpose, and symbolism.  When we read of the Canaanite forces fighting Joshua, it is a literal story where the nations tried to snuff out the line of Jesus Christ even before His birth, the same kind of "retroactive abortion" which is the plot of the Terminator series, and yet God prevails for our sakes. Of course, there is also the symbolic imagery of demonic forces trying to overpower and confuse us to fear them and fear our lives and lose trust and hope in God, and yet just as Joshua triumphed in God's Grace so too can we in our own times.  The entire Israelite society existed to support the individual families which were the ancestry of Jesus Christ, indeed the entire world orders were part of this same interaction.  What is the purpose of the Egyptian Empire but for Joseph to take lead and then later for Pharaoh to persecute the Lord's family? What was the very purpose of monetary systems of the world if not for our father Jacob to have saved that lifetime worth of coinage to bring to Egypt to buy grain? See, again, the entire world, past, present, and future takes shape and meaning in the context of the typologies of the Old Testament writings. They are a treasure trove of the collective human experience and consciousness which is relevant across all generations, and we always draw upon those same universal wells of symbolism, imagery, and meaning. This is what literary speaking, makes the Bible the greatest work of literature of all time, there is nothing more thorough, expansive, and telling about the drama and joy of being human.

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habte selassie
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Offline recent convert

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Re: The Role of the Old Testament in the Life of the Church
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2011, 10:31:35 AM »
The post from Habte Salassie (#6) is gold. I often wish there could be more OT typology, analogy, etc. presented. I often hear that one needs to consult clergy or a spiritual father before reading the Philokalia for instance, but what about the OT? There are readings that are difficult to harmonize with the ultimate conclusion of the law & prophets our Lord gives in the golden rule and the 2 great commands. St. Maximos the Confessor states, "The law of the OT through practical philosophy cleanses human nature of all defilement, through initiation into the mysteries of contemplation, raises the intellect by means of spiritual knowledge from the sight of material things to the vision of spiritual realities." (# 67, 1st Century Various Texts, Philokalia vol. 2). St. Maximos has a fair amount of OT reference in his teachings which are excellent but not always easily understood. Again, laity are often told to consult clergy before reading the Philokalia so we have much caution here & in probably many other similar examples. Personally I like the Orthodox Study Bible, as do many laity, but there are also varying opinions here. There are varying opinions as to how far into tradition the OT was read during the DL; one may contend until the 8th c., the prophets were read alongside the epistle & Gospel but others say not so (does the Prokeimenon of St. Germanus (of Constantinople (8th c.) support OT reading? what about the Divine Liturgy of St. Germanus of Paris? when is the link broken from the attestation of St. Justin the Martyr?).

What about tradtions that if one makes an observation seeing a possible correlation of something that one may have not known to be commented on by the church?
For ex. is there a relationship between the (august 1st) commemoration of the martyred Mother, her 7 sons & Eleazar the priest from 2nd Maccabees 7 & the extensive homily oif 4th Maccabees and the Dormition of the Theotokos? Then what about further linkage to the Woman of the Acopalypse in Revelation 12? Is the imagery (celestial at times) attributed to each of these women (the OT Maccabean mother, the Theotokos, the woman of the Apocalypse (Theotokos also?) in the various writings of scriptures, akathists etc.. testify to this?).

I realize many writings were lost for centuries (in most areas) like 4th Maccabees, the book of Enoch, the epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the Didache, etc. & many spurious ones shuffled in with the genuine (the situation w/ St. Ignatius must truly have been a wreckage to sort out for ex.).

Is there a correlation between the Great Litany of the DL & Solomon's great prayer in the commemoration of the Temple? It seems safe to say in a general sense since there is comprehensive & collective sense of petition to God in prayer but any other wisdom can a layperson perceive here? etc. etc.
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« Last Edit: August 08, 2011, 10:33:55 AM by recent convert »
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