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Author Topic: Immaculate Conception, Purgatory, Filioque & Papal Infallibility  (Read 7802 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #135 on: June 06, 2012, 05:33:44 PM »

I was not aware that Orthodoxy now submits its liturgical texts to the critical historical method before deciding on whether or not it stands up to lex orandi....good to know.   Does anyone know if that how they set up their Scriptural exegesis as well?

M.

Must something correspond to history in order to be true? Is the truth of the Entry of the Theotokos  or of the Dormition to be found in their historical accuracy?

If something is true, and is said to have occurred in human history, how can there *not* be some kind of historical correspondence? 

For all the historical evidence we have there may never have been a Virgin Mother of God.  I am missing your point.
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« Reply #136 on: June 06, 2012, 05:41:17 PM »

I was not aware that Orthodoxy now submits its liturgical texts to the critical historical method before deciding on whether or not it stands up to lex orandi....good to know.   Does anyone know if that how they set up their Scriptural exegesis as well?

M.

Must something correspond to history in order to be true? Is the truth of the Entry of the Theotokos  or of the Dormition to be found in their historical accuracy?

If something is true, and is said to have occurred in human history, how can there *not* be some kind of historical correspondence? 

For all the historical evidence we have there may never have been a Virgin Mother of God.  I am missing your point.

I don't believe J Michael's statement was in regard to historical evidence.
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« Reply #137 on: June 06, 2012, 05:46:20 PM »

I was not aware that Orthodoxy now submits its liturgical texts to the critical historical method before deciding on whether or not it stands up to lex orandi....good to know.   Does anyone know if that how they set up their Scriptural exegesis as well?

M.

Must something correspond to history in order to be true? Is the truth of the Entry of the Theotokos  or of the Dormition to be found in their historical accuracy?

If something is true, and is said to have occurred in human history, how can there *not* be some kind of historical correspondence? 

For all the historical evidence we have there may never have been a Virgin Mother of God.  I am missing your point.

I don't believe J Michael's statement was in regard to historical evidence.

Indeed.  That is why I explicitly said that I was missing his point.  I'm sure he'll get back to me as he has time.
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« Reply #138 on: June 06, 2012, 06:19:10 PM »

I was not aware that Orthodoxy now submits its liturgical texts to the critical historical method before deciding on whether or not it stands up to lex orandi....good to know.   Does anyone know if that how they set up their Scriptural exegesis as well?

M.

Must something correspond to history in order to be true? Is the truth of the Entry of the Theotokos  or of the Dormition to be found in their historical accuracy?

If something is true, and is said to have occurred in human history, how can there *not* be some kind of historical correspondence? 

That is the very question at the heart of the conflict between the Alexandrian and Antiochene methods of exegesis. It is not a tension that Orthodoxy has ever fully resolved, nor do I really think that it should be resolved.
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« Reply #139 on: June 06, 2012, 06:28:42 PM »

I am not surprised that the question of the historical accuracy of the claim that the Theotokos was raised in the Temple has been invoked in this thread.  This is a sensitive but ultimately unavoidable topic. Christianity is a historical religion.  It is therefore always appropriate to ask, Did it happen?  Modernity has posed this question in an especially acute manner regarding many of the Christian claims (the Exodus, the virginity of Mary, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.), and the the various Churches have answered in various ways.  How do we distinguish between fact and legend?  Is historical and scientific evidence irrelevant to faith?  I do not have the answers.

On 2 September 2006, the distinguished Orthodox theologian Andrew Louth published the following article in The Times:

Quote
"There is nothing untrue in the Protevangelion's joyful, inaccurate tales"

Next Friday, September 8, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, this is one of the 12 great feasts of the liturgical year. Like several other feasts of the Virgin, it draws its inspiration not from any of the canonical gospels, but from a late 2nd-century gospel, the so-called First Gospel of St James, the Protevangelion of St James.

This is one of the apocryphal gospels that attract perennial interest, often alleged to contain traditions of the "real truth of Christianity" and consequently to have been suppressed by the Church. The Protevangelion was not included in the canon of the Gospels, probably because of doubts about the historical accuracy of the stories it contained, which tell of the early life of the Blessed Virgin, from her conception by aged and barren parents, through her life in the temple, to her betrothal to Joseph and her giving birth, as a virgin, to the Son of God.

It is clearly a work of imagination; the meaning of the stories lies in their significance, not in their historical truth.

What is particularly striking about the Protevangelion is the way it associates the Virgin Mary with the Jewish Temple. In a wonderful scene, depicted unforgettably in the mosaic of the life of the Virgin in the inner narthex of Constantinople's Church of the Chora (Kariye Camii), the six-month-old Mary is placed by her mother, Anna, on the ground, and walks seven steps towards her mother. Anna vows that Mary will no more walk on the earth until she goes to the temple. She is presented at the temple, and lives there until the age of 12, when she is betrothed to Joseph. Later she is one of the virgins chosen to weave the cloth for the veil of the temple.

Much of this is historically implausible, but its significance lies in the fact that Mary is destined to be a living temple, in which God will dwell, and that she will weave in her womb the human nature of Christ: the flesh, called in the Epistle to the Hebrews the veil (Heb. x, 20). By her "Yes" to God, the Jewish girl Mary becomes God's dwelling place, a living temple. Or, to change the imagery, she becomes Paradise restored: as one of our Orthodox liturgical hymns puts it: "Her womb is shown to be the spiritual paradise, in which is the divine plant, eating of which we live, not like Adam who died. Christ is born, to raise up the fallen image."

Though there are many songs and hymns about the Virgin throughout Christendom, the West has often seemed to hanker after something more definite, either dismissing devotion to Mary on historical grounds, or expressing it in terms of defined dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, or the Assumption. The Christian East has remained content with celebration in song. The most famous Byzantine hymn to the Mother of God, the Akathist, cries out to her:

Hail, you through whom joy will shine out, Hail, you through whom the curse will cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam, Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for human thoughts, Hail, depth hard to scan even for angels' eyes.
Hail, for you are a throne for the King, Hail, for you carry the One who carries all.


There is perhaps a deeper reason behind the way the Christian East expresses its devotion to the Mother of God in song rather than in intricate theological definition. For song and celebration foster a fundamental attitude to the world and life of joy and thanksgiving. In contrast, one of the most insidious effects of sin, very evident in society today, is the way it leads to an approach to life characterised by suspicion, resentment and fear.

The attitude of thanksgiving was characteristic of one of the great saints of the early Church, St John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, who experienced in his life much opposition and misunderstanding, and died in exile. According to his biographer, his constant response, whatever happened, was: "Glory to God for everything."

I am personally more comfortable with the approach of Fr Andrew than I am with the fundamentalist approach that elides historical questions altogether.  Who was it that said, in opposition to the Catholic understanding of infallibility, "Orthodoxy doesn't ask anyone to believe anything that isn't true"?   In any case, these kinds of hermeneutical questions must eventually be addressed, fully, competently, and courageously, by Orthodox theology.  
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« Reply #140 on: June 06, 2012, 06:29:13 PM »



All very good and interesting hermeneutical questions and considerations. Wink

Father, I plan on getting back to you on this soon, but perhaps in the meantime can you explain what the hermeneutical model is for the RC church?  Or is that part of the study links you put on page 2? 

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« Reply #141 on: June 06, 2012, 06:30:48 PM »

Firstly, I disagree that we HAVE to give more attention to dogmatic hermeneutics.  The dogmas are the dogmas are the dogmas.

That's like saying, the Bible is the Bible is the Bible. 

Perhaps serb1389's point can be phrased this way (forgive me if I misinterpret what you were getting at Fr.):
If Orthodoxy does not have a clear dogmatic hermeneutic (and I beleive that is what you are are asserting Fr. Aidan), then we have apparently gotten along for 2000 years without one. What in particular about the present time would make us need something we didn't need previously (particularly as compared to, say, the conciliar period when dogmatic controversies regularly shook the Church)? The only logical alternative to this would be that if we have not gotten along for 2000 years without a clear dogmatic hermeneutic, then we must have (or at some point have had) such a hermeneutic and the goal would be to understand/recover that rather than invent it.

(Personally, I think I'd suggest that while we do not have a 'clear' hermeneutic, we do have a practical, functional one born of the experiential nature of the Church that produces clear 'enough' dogmas. But that would take a lot more time and space to defend than I currently have, so I'll just leave it there as a suggestion).


Quote
The mention of Romanides raises an important question:  What precisely is the authority of the Latin Fathers in Orthodoxy?  My impression is that they functionally have no authority.  They are quoted when they agree with our favorite Eastern Fathers and are ignored when they disagree.  Now that is a hermeneutical decision, but on what grounds do we justify it?        

Forgive me, but I think you are making this question more complicated than it needs to be. A Father's individual authority rests on his witness to the common tradition and his place within the community of the Church (as a whole over time). The further any Father pushes into individual/idiosyncratic interpretation/speculation, the less authority his words carry on that matter. If St. Athanasius and St. Basil and St. Ambrose and St. Maximus all say the same (or similar) thing, that their words have a lot of authority. On the other hand, if St. Athanasius is the only person who says X, then it has considerably less authority--but because St. Athanasius is recognized throughout the Church as one of the most authoritative fathers, his personal opinion would still more weight than if St. John of Kronstadt (a widely beloved and respected saint but not one generally recognized as a doctrinal powerhouse) is the only person who says X. And in turn, St. John's personal opinion still carries more weight than that of random layman Y.

As far as the Latin Fathers go, we know where their particular current in the Tradition ended up--in the schism of the West and the eventual adoption of multiple innovations. It was not a case that the West was perfectly Orthodox in 1053 and became perfectly unorthodox in 1054. Clearly the seeds of the schism were sown earlier and developed over time. So when one looks at a Western Father and what he says is in agreement with Eastern Fathers (either directly or as different but complementary perspective), then we can see how his statement witnesses to the common tradition. But when what he says is not reflected at all in the Eastern, we approach it more cautiously. And that's true whether it's a dozen Latin Fathers or just one. Because the witness of a dozen Eastern Fathers is a broad witness to the flow of Tradition that has literally and directly been handed down to us from their time to this; whereas the the witness of a dozen Latin Fathers might be a witness to the deviation that would eventually carry the West out of the Church entirely.

That all about sums it up, with a few additions I plan on adding.  but I think this draws me to a bigger issue:  I need to be more clear about what i'm saying & be more in depth.  I plan on doing that in this thread from now on. 
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« Reply #142 on: June 06, 2012, 06:36:37 PM »

I am not surprised that the question of the historical accuracy of the claim that the Theotokos was raised in the Temple has been invoked in this thread.  This is a sensitive but ultimately unavoidable topic. Christianity is a historical religion.  It is therefore always appropriate to ask, Did it happen?  Modernity has posed this question in an especially acute manner regarding many of the Christian claims (the Exodus, the virginity of Mary, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.), and the the various Churches have answered in various ways.  How do we distinguish between fact and legend?  Is historical and scientific evidence irrelevant to faith?  I do not have the answers.

On 2 September 2006, the distinguished Orthodox theologian Andrew Louth published the following article in The Times:

Quote
"There is nothing untrue in the Protevangelion's joyful, inaccurate tales"

Next Friday, September 8, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, this is one of the 12 great feasts of the liturgical year. Like several other feasts of the Virgin, it draws its inspiration not from any of the canonical gospels, but from a late 2nd-century gospel, the so-called First Gospel of St James, the Protevangelion of St James.

This is one of the apocryphal gospels that attract perennial interest, often alleged to contain traditions of the "real truth of Christianity" and consequently to have been suppressed by the Church. The Protevangelion was not included in the canon of the Gospels, probably because of doubts about the historical accuracy of the stories it contained, which tell of the early life of the Blessed Virgin, from her conception by aged and barren parents, through her life in the temple, to her betrothal to Joseph and her giving birth, as a virgin, to the Son of God.

It is clearly a work of imagination; the meaning of the stories lies in their significance, not in their historical truth.

What is particularly striking about the Protevangelion is the way it associates the Virgin Mary with the Jewish Temple. In a wonderful scene, depicted unforgettably in the mosaic of the life of the Virgin in the inner narthex of Constantinople's Church of the Chora (Kariye Camii), the six-month-old Mary is placed by her mother, Anna, on the ground, and walks seven steps towards her mother. Anna vows that Mary will no more walk on the earth until she goes to the temple. She is presented at the temple, and lives there until the age of 12, when she is betrothed to Joseph. Later she is one of the virgins chosen to weave the cloth for the veil of the temple.

Much of this is historically implausible, but its significance lies in the fact that Mary is destined to be a living temple, in which God will dwell, and that she will weave in her womb the human nature of Christ: the flesh, called in the Epistle to the Hebrews the veil (Heb. x, 20). By her "Yes" to God, the Jewish girl Mary becomes God's dwelling place, a living temple. Or, to change the imagery, she becomes Paradise restored: as one of our Orthodox liturgical hymns puts it: "Her womb is shown to be the spiritual paradise, in which is the divine plant, eating of which we live, not like Adam who died. Christ is born, to raise up the fallen image."

Though there are many songs and hymns about the Virgin throughout Christendom, the West has often seemed to hanker after something more definite, either dismissing devotion to Mary on historical grounds, or expressing it in terms of defined dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, or the Assumption. The Christian East has remained content with celebration in song. The most famous Byzantine hymn to the Mother of God, the Akathist, cries out to her:

Hail, you through whom joy will shine out, Hail, you through whom the curse will cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam, Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for human thoughts, Hail, depth hard to scan even for angels' eyes.
Hail, for you are a throne for the King, Hail, for you carry the One who carries all.


There is perhaps a deeper reason behind the way the Christian East expresses its devotion to the Mother of God in song rather than in intricate theological definition. For song and celebration foster a fundamental attitude to the world and life of joy and thanksgiving. In contrast, one of the most insidious effects of sin, very evident in society today, is the way it leads to an approach to life characterised by suspicion, resentment and fear.

The attitude of thanksgiving was characteristic of one of the great saints of the early Church, St John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, who experienced in his life much opposition and misunderstanding, and died in exile. According to his biographer, his constant response, whatever happened, was: "Glory to God for everything."

I am personally more comfortable with the approach of Fr Andrew than I am with the fundamentalist approach that elides historical questions altogether.  Who was it that said, in opposition to the Catholic understanding of infallibility, "Orthodoxy doesn't ask anyone to believe anything that isn't true"?   In any case, these kinds of hermeneutical questions must eventually be addressed, fully, competently, and courageously, by Orthodox theology.  

That about sums up my own feelings on the matter too.
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« Reply #143 on: June 06, 2012, 06:39:14 PM »

I am not surprised that the question of the historical accuracy of the claim that the Theotokos was raised in the Temple has been invoked in this thread.  This is a sensitive but ultimately unavoidable topic. Christianity is a historical religion.  It is therefore always appropriate to ask, Did it happen?  Modernity has posed this question in an especially acute manner regarding many of the Christian claims (the Exodus, the virginity of Mary, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.), and the the various Churches have answered in various ways.  How do we distinguish between fact and legend?  Is historical and scientific evidence irrelevant to faith?  I do not have the answers.

On 2 September 2006, the distinguished Orthodox theologian Andrew Louth published the following article in The Times:

Quote
"There is nothing untrue in the Protevangelion's joyful, inaccurate tales"

Next Friday, September 8, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, this is one of the 12 great feasts of the liturgical year. Like several other feasts of the Virgin, it draws its inspiration not from any of the canonical gospels, but from a late 2nd-century gospel, the so-called First Gospel of St James, the Protevangelion of St James.

This is one of the apocryphal gospels that attract perennial interest, often alleged to contain traditions of the "real truth of Christianity" and consequently to have been suppressed by the Church. The Protevangelion was not included in the canon of the Gospels, probably because of doubts about the historical accuracy of the stories it contained, which tell of the early life of the Blessed Virgin, from her conception by aged and barren parents, through her life in the temple, to her betrothal to Joseph and her giving birth, as a virgin, to the Son of God.

It is clearly a work of imagination; the meaning of the stories lies in their significance, not in their historical truth.

What is particularly striking about the Protevangelion is the way it associates the Virgin Mary with the Jewish Temple. In a wonderful scene, depicted unforgettably in the mosaic of the life of the Virgin in the inner narthex of Constantinople's Church of the Chora (Kariye Camii), the six-month-old Mary is placed by her mother, Anna, on the ground, and walks seven steps towards her mother. Anna vows that Mary will no more walk on the earth until she goes to the temple. She is presented at the temple, and lives there until the age of 12, when she is betrothed to Joseph. Later she is one of the virgins chosen to weave the cloth for the veil of the temple.

Much of this is historically implausible, but its significance lies in the fact that Mary is destined to be a living temple, in which God will dwell, and that she will weave in her womb the human nature of Christ: the flesh, called in the Epistle to the Hebrews the veil (Heb. x, 20). By her "Yes" to God, the Jewish girl Mary becomes God's dwelling place, a living temple. Or, to change the imagery, she becomes Paradise restored: as one of our Orthodox liturgical hymns puts it: "Her womb is shown to be the spiritual paradise, in which is the divine plant, eating of which we live, not like Adam who died. Christ is born, to raise up the fallen image."

Though there are many songs and hymns about the Virgin throughout Christendom, the West has often seemed to hanker after something more definite, either dismissing devotion to Mary on historical grounds, or expressing it in terms of defined dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, or the Assumption. The Christian East has remained content with celebration in song. The most famous Byzantine hymn to the Mother of God, the Akathist, cries out to her:

Hail, you through whom joy will shine out, Hail, you through whom the curse will cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam, Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for human thoughts, Hail, depth hard to scan even for angels' eyes.
Hail, for you are a throne for the King, Hail, for you carry the One who carries all.


There is perhaps a deeper reason behind the way the Christian East expresses its devotion to the Mother of God in song rather than in intricate theological definition. For song and celebration foster a fundamental attitude to the world and life of joy and thanksgiving. In contrast, one of the most insidious effects of sin, very evident in society today, is the way it leads to an approach to life characterised by suspicion, resentment and fear.

The attitude of thanksgiving was characteristic of one of the great saints of the early Church, St John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, who experienced in his life much opposition and misunderstanding, and died in exile. According to his biographer, his constant response, whatever happened, was: "Glory to God for everything."

I am personally more comfortable with the approach of Fr Andrew than I am with the fundamentalist approach that elides historical questions altogether.  Who was it that said, in opposition to the Catholic understanding of infallibility, "Orthodoxy doesn't ask anyone to believe anything that isn't true"?   In any case, these kinds of hermeneutical questions must eventually be addressed, fully, competently, and courageously, by Orthodox theology.  

Are the Gospels more historically true that the Protoevangelium?  It would seem so from the text above.

M.
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« Reply #144 on: June 06, 2012, 06:51:42 PM »

I am not surprised that the question of the historical accuracy of the claim that the Theotokos was raised in the Temple has been invoked in this thread.  This is a sensitive but ultimately unavoidable topic. Christianity is a historical religion.  It is therefore always appropriate to ask, Did it happen?  Modernity has posed this question in an especially acute manner regarding many of the Christian claims (the Exodus, the virginity of Mary, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.), and the the various Churches have answered in various ways.  How do we distinguish between fact and legend?  Is historical and scientific evidence irrelevant to faith?  I do not have the answers.

On 2 September 2006, the distinguished Orthodox theologian Andrew Louth published the following article in The Times:

Quote
"There is nothing untrue in the Protevangelion's joyful, inaccurate tales"

Next Friday, September 8, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, this is one of the 12 great feasts of the liturgical year. Like several other feasts of the Virgin, it draws its inspiration not from any of the canonical gospels, but from a late 2nd-century gospel, the so-called First Gospel of St James, the Protevangelion of St James.

This is one of the apocryphal gospels that attract perennial interest, often alleged to contain traditions of the "real truth of Christianity" and consequently to have been suppressed by the Church. The Protevangelion was not included in the canon of the Gospels, probably because of doubts about the historical accuracy of the stories it contained, which tell of the early life of the Blessed Virgin, from her conception by aged and barren parents, through her life in the temple, to her betrothal to Joseph and her giving birth, as a virgin, to the Son of God.

It is clearly a work of imagination; the meaning of the stories lies in their significance, not in their historical truth.

What is particularly striking about the Protevangelion is the way it associates the Virgin Mary with the Jewish Temple. In a wonderful scene, depicted unforgettably in the mosaic of the life of the Virgin in the inner narthex of Constantinople's Church of the Chora (Kariye Camii), the six-month-old Mary is placed by her mother, Anna, on the ground, and walks seven steps towards her mother. Anna vows that Mary will no more walk on the earth until she goes to the temple. She is presented at the temple, and lives there until the age of 12, when she is betrothed to Joseph. Later she is one of the virgins chosen to weave the cloth for the veil of the temple.

Much of this is historically implausible, but its significance lies in the fact that Mary is destined to be a living temple, in which God will dwell, and that she will weave in her womb the human nature of Christ: the flesh, called in the Epistle to the Hebrews the veil (Heb. x, 20). By her "Yes" to God, the Jewish girl Mary becomes God's dwelling place, a living temple. Or, to change the imagery, she becomes Paradise restored: as one of our Orthodox liturgical hymns puts it: "Her womb is shown to be the spiritual paradise, in which is the divine plant, eating of which we live, not like Adam who died. Christ is born, to raise up the fallen image."

Though there are many songs and hymns about the Virgin throughout Christendom, the West has often seemed to hanker after something more definite, either dismissing devotion to Mary on historical grounds, or expressing it in terms of defined dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, or the Assumption. The Christian East has remained content with celebration in song. The most famous Byzantine hymn to the Mother of God, the Akathist, cries out to her:

Hail, you through whom joy will shine out, Hail, you through whom the curse will cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam, Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for human thoughts, Hail, depth hard to scan even for angels' eyes.
Hail, for you are a throne for the King, Hail, for you carry the One who carries all.


There is perhaps a deeper reason behind the way the Christian East expresses its devotion to the Mother of God in song rather than in intricate theological definition. For song and celebration foster a fundamental attitude to the world and life of joy and thanksgiving. In contrast, one of the most insidious effects of sin, very evident in society today, is the way it leads to an approach to life characterised by suspicion, resentment and fear.

The attitude of thanksgiving was characteristic of one of the great saints of the early Church, St John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, who experienced in his life much opposition and misunderstanding, and died in exile. According to his biographer, his constant response, whatever happened, was: "Glory to God for everything."

I am personally more comfortable with the approach of Fr Andrew than I am with the fundamentalist approach that elides historical questions altogether.  Who was it that said, in opposition to the Catholic understanding of infallibility, "Orthodoxy doesn't ask anyone to believe anything that isn't true"?   In any case, these kinds of hermeneutical questions must eventually be addressed, fully, competently, and courageously, by Orthodox theology.  

Are the Gospels more historically true that the Protoevangelium?  It would seem so from the text above.

M.

If the Protoevangelium were as historically true as the Gospels, it would presumably have made it into the actual canon.
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« Reply #145 on: June 06, 2012, 06:56:55 PM »

I am not surprised that the question of the historical accuracy of the claim that the Theotokos was raised in the Temple has been invoked in this thread.  This is a sensitive but ultimately unavoidable topic. Christianity is a historical religion.  It is therefore always appropriate to ask, Did it happen?  Modernity has posed this question in an especially acute manner regarding many of the Christian claims (the Exodus, the virginity of Mary, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.), and the the various Churches have answered in various ways.  How do we distinguish between fact and legend?  Is historical and scientific evidence irrelevant to faith?  I do not have the answers.

On 2 September 2006, the distinguished Orthodox theologian Andrew Louth published the following article in The Times:

Quote
"There is nothing untrue in the Protevangelion's joyful, inaccurate tales"

Next Friday, September 8, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, this is one of the 12 great feasts of the liturgical year. Like several other feasts of the Virgin, it draws its inspiration not from any of the canonical gospels, but from a late 2nd-century gospel, the so-called First Gospel of St James, the Protevangelion of St James.

This is one of the apocryphal gospels that attract perennial interest, often alleged to contain traditions of the "real truth of Christianity" and consequently to have been suppressed by the Church. The Protevangelion was not included in the canon of the Gospels, probably because of doubts about the historical accuracy of the stories it contained, which tell of the early life of the Blessed Virgin, from her conception by aged and barren parents, through her life in the temple, to her betrothal to Joseph and her giving birth, as a virgin, to the Son of God.

It is clearly a work of imagination; the meaning of the stories lies in their significance, not in their historical truth.

What is particularly striking about the Protevangelion is the way it associates the Virgin Mary with the Jewish Temple. In a wonderful scene, depicted unforgettably in the mosaic of the life of the Virgin in the inner narthex of Constantinople's Church of the Chora (Kariye Camii), the six-month-old Mary is placed by her mother, Anna, on the ground, and walks seven steps towards her mother. Anna vows that Mary will no more walk on the earth until she goes to the temple. She is presented at the temple, and lives there until the age of 12, when she is betrothed to Joseph. Later she is one of the virgins chosen to weave the cloth for the veil of the temple.

Much of this is historically implausible, but its significance lies in the fact that Mary is destined to be a living temple, in which God will dwell, and that she will weave in her womb the human nature of Christ: the flesh, called in the Epistle to the Hebrews the veil (Heb. x, 20). By her "Yes" to God, the Jewish girl Mary becomes God's dwelling place, a living temple. Or, to change the imagery, she becomes Paradise restored: as one of our Orthodox liturgical hymns puts it: "Her womb is shown to be the spiritual paradise, in which is the divine plant, eating of which we live, not like Adam who died. Christ is born, to raise up the fallen image."

Though there are many songs and hymns about the Virgin throughout Christendom, the West has often seemed to hanker after something more definite, either dismissing devotion to Mary on historical grounds, or expressing it in terms of defined dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, or the Assumption. The Christian East has remained content with celebration in song. The most famous Byzantine hymn to the Mother of God, the Akathist, cries out to her:

Hail, you through whom joy will shine out, Hail, you through whom the curse will cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam, Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for human thoughts, Hail, depth hard to scan even for angels' eyes.
Hail, for you are a throne for the King, Hail, for you carry the One who carries all.


There is perhaps a deeper reason behind the way the Christian East expresses its devotion to the Mother of God in song rather than in intricate theological definition. For song and celebration foster a fundamental attitude to the world and life of joy and thanksgiving. In contrast, one of the most insidious effects of sin, very evident in society today, is the way it leads to an approach to life characterised by suspicion, resentment and fear.

The attitude of thanksgiving was characteristic of one of the great saints of the early Church, St John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, who experienced in his life much opposition and misunderstanding, and died in exile. According to his biographer, his constant response, whatever happened, was: "Glory to God for everything."

I am personally more comfortable with the approach of Fr Andrew than I am with the fundamentalist approach that elides historical questions altogether.  Who was it that said, in opposition to the Catholic understanding of infallibility, "Orthodoxy doesn't ask anyone to believe anything that isn't true"?   In any case, these kinds of hermeneutical questions must eventually be addressed, fully, competently, and courageously, by Orthodox theology.  

Are the Gospels more historically true that the Protoevangelium?  It would seem so from the text above.

M.

I think with the gospels, they are at least more credible (or the Fathers regarded them as being so). I also get the feeling that unlike the Dormition and the Entry of the Theotokos, the historical existence of an incarnate God born of a virgin is something central to our salvation. Whether the account of His mother going into the holy of holies at the age of three and being ministered to by angels until she turned 12 is an historical fact or is supposed to reflect some sort of typology is probably less central.
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« Reply #146 on: June 06, 2012, 07:10:51 PM »

I am not surprised that the question of the historical accuracy of the claim that the Theotokos was raised in the Temple has been invoked in this thread.  This is a sensitive but ultimately unavoidable topic. Christianity is a historical religion.  It is therefore always appropriate to ask, Did it happen?  Modernity has posed this question in an especially acute manner regarding many of the Christian claims (the Exodus, the virginity of Mary, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.), and the the various Churches have answered in various ways.  How do we distinguish between fact and legend?  Is historical and scientific evidence irrelevant to faith?  I do not have the answers.

On 2 September 2006, the distinguished Orthodox theologian Andrew Louth published the following article in The Times:

Quote
"There is nothing untrue in the Protevangelion's joyful, inaccurate tales"

Next Friday, September 8, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, this is one of the 12 great feasts of the liturgical year. Like several other feasts of the Virgin, it draws its inspiration not from any of the canonical gospels, but from a late 2nd-century gospel, the so-called First Gospel of St James, the Protevangelion of St James.

This is one of the apocryphal gospels that attract perennial interest, often alleged to contain traditions of the "real truth of Christianity" and consequently to have been suppressed by the Church. The Protevangelion was not included in the canon of the Gospels, probably because of doubts about the historical accuracy of the stories it contained, which tell of the early life of the Blessed Virgin, from her conception by aged and barren parents, through her life in the temple, to her betrothal to Joseph and her giving birth, as a virgin, to the Son of God.

It is clearly a work of imagination; the meaning of the stories lies in their significance, not in their historical truth.

What is particularly striking about the Protevangelion is the way it associates the Virgin Mary with the Jewish Temple. In a wonderful scene, depicted unforgettably in the mosaic of the life of the Virgin in the inner narthex of Constantinople's Church of the Chora (Kariye Camii), the six-month-old Mary is placed by her mother, Anna, on the ground, and walks seven steps towards her mother. Anna vows that Mary will no more walk on the earth until she goes to the temple. She is presented at the temple, and lives there until the age of 12, when she is betrothed to Joseph. Later she is one of the virgins chosen to weave the cloth for the veil of the temple.

Much of this is historically implausible, but its significance lies in the fact that Mary is destined to be a living temple, in which God will dwell, and that she will weave in her womb the human nature of Christ: the flesh, called in the Epistle to the Hebrews the veil (Heb. x, 20). By her "Yes" to God, the Jewish girl Mary becomes God's dwelling place, a living temple. Or, to change the imagery, she becomes Paradise restored: as one of our Orthodox liturgical hymns puts it: "Her womb is shown to be the spiritual paradise, in which is the divine plant, eating of which we live, not like Adam who died. Christ is born, to raise up the fallen image."

Though there are many songs and hymns about the Virgin throughout Christendom, the West has often seemed to hanker after something more definite, either dismissing devotion to Mary on historical grounds, or expressing it in terms of defined dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, or the Assumption. The Christian East has remained content with celebration in song. The most famous Byzantine hymn to the Mother of God, the Akathist, cries out to her:

Hail, you through whom joy will shine out, Hail, you through whom the curse will cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam, Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for human thoughts, Hail, depth hard to scan even for angels' eyes.
Hail, for you are a throne for the King, Hail, for you carry the One who carries all.


There is perhaps a deeper reason behind the way the Christian East expresses its devotion to the Mother of God in song rather than in intricate theological definition. For song and celebration foster a fundamental attitude to the world and life of joy and thanksgiving. In contrast, one of the most insidious effects of sin, very evident in society today, is the way it leads to an approach to life characterised by suspicion, resentment and fear.

The attitude of thanksgiving was characteristic of one of the great saints of the early Church, St John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, who experienced in his life much opposition and misunderstanding, and died in exile. According to his biographer, his constant response, whatever happened, was: "Glory to God for everything."

I am personally more comfortable with the approach of Fr Andrew than I am with the fundamentalist approach that elides historical questions altogether.  Who was it that said, in opposition to the Catholic understanding of infallibility, "Orthodoxy doesn't ask anyone to believe anything that isn't true"?   In any case, these kinds of hermeneutical questions must eventually be addressed, fully, competently, and courageously, by Orthodox theology.  

Are the Gospels more historically true that the Protoevangelium?  It would seem so from the text above.

M.

I think with the gospels, they are at least more credible (or the Fathers regarded them as being so). I also get the feeling that unlike the Dormition and the Entry of the Theotokos, the historical existence of an incarnate God born of a virgin is something central to our salvation. Whether the account of His mother going into the holy of holies at the age of three and being ministered to by angels until she turned 12 is an historical fact or is supposed to reflect some sort of typology is probably less central.

This is not the question I am asking.  Witega answered the question directly.  He says that the Gospels must be more historically true because they made it into the Canon and the Protoevangelium did not.

What evidence is there that the Gospels are historically true?

C'mon...the Jesus Seminar is not ancient history.

You are telling me that the Feast of the Entrance into the Temple is exempt from lex orandi because it is not historically true. [You...generic here...not anyone in particular: but rather than deal with the text we are now dealing with the historical critical method of assessing the what?...accuracy of something?...it's truth value?...etc.  To me it looks like a slide...or it is telling me that lex orandi only applies to those texts that are more palatable than others.]

Back it up with evidence or admit that liturgically the feast is quite open to lex orandi.

M.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2012, 07:22:57 PM by elijahmaria » Logged

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« Reply #147 on: June 06, 2012, 07:54:12 PM »

I am not surprised that the question of the historical accuracy of the claim that the Theotokos was raised in the Temple has been invoked in this thread.  This is a sensitive but ultimately unavoidable topic. Christianity is a historical religion.  It is therefore always appropriate to ask, Did it happen?  Modernity has posed this question in an especially acute manner regarding many of the Christian claims (the Exodus, the virginity of Mary, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.), and the the various Churches have answered in various ways.  How do we distinguish between fact and legend?  Is historical and scientific evidence irrelevant to faith?  I do not have the answers.

On 2 September 2006, the distinguished Orthodox theologian Andrew Louth published the following article in The Times:

Quote
"There is nothing untrue in the Protevangelion's joyful, inaccurate tales"

Next Friday, September 8, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, this is one of the 12 great feasts of the liturgical year. Like several other feasts of the Virgin, it draws its inspiration not from any of the canonical gospels, but from a late 2nd-century gospel, the so-called First Gospel of St James, the Protevangelion of St James.

This is one of the apocryphal gospels that attract perennial interest, often alleged to contain traditions of the "real truth of Christianity" and consequently to have been suppressed by the Church. The Protevangelion was not included in the canon of the Gospels, probably because of doubts about the historical accuracy of the stories it contained, which tell of the early life of the Blessed Virgin, from her conception by aged and barren parents, through her life in the temple, to her betrothal to Joseph and her giving birth, as a virgin, to the Son of God.

It is clearly a work of imagination; the meaning of the stories lies in their significance, not in their historical truth.

What is particularly striking about the Protevangelion is the way it associates the Virgin Mary with the Jewish Temple. In a wonderful scene, depicted unforgettably in the mosaic of the life of the Virgin in the inner narthex of Constantinople's Church of the Chora (Kariye Camii), the six-month-old Mary is placed by her mother, Anna, on the ground, and walks seven steps towards her mother. Anna vows that Mary will no more walk on the earth until she goes to the temple. She is presented at the temple, and lives there until the age of 12, when she is betrothed to Joseph. Later she is one of the virgins chosen to weave the cloth for the veil of the temple.

Much of this is historically implausible, but its significance lies in the fact that Mary is destined to be a living temple, in which God will dwell, and that she will weave in her womb the human nature of Christ: the flesh, called in the Epistle to the Hebrews the veil (Heb. x, 20). By her "Yes" to God, the Jewish girl Mary becomes God's dwelling place, a living temple. Or, to change the imagery, she becomes Paradise restored: as one of our Orthodox liturgical hymns puts it: "Her womb is shown to be the spiritual paradise, in which is the divine plant, eating of which we live, not like Adam who died. Christ is born, to raise up the fallen image."

Though there are many songs and hymns about the Virgin throughout Christendom, the West has often seemed to hanker after something more definite, either dismissing devotion to Mary on historical grounds, or expressing it in terms of defined dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, or the Assumption. The Christian East has remained content with celebration in song. The most famous Byzantine hymn to the Mother of God, the Akathist, cries out to her:

Hail, you through whom joy will shine out, Hail, you through whom the curse will cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam, Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for human thoughts, Hail, depth hard to scan even for angels' eyes.
Hail, for you are a throne for the King, Hail, for you carry the One who carries all.


There is perhaps a deeper reason behind the way the Christian East expresses its devotion to the Mother of God in song rather than in intricate theological definition. For song and celebration foster a fundamental attitude to the world and life of joy and thanksgiving. In contrast, one of the most insidious effects of sin, very evident in society today, is the way it leads to an approach to life characterised by suspicion, resentment and fear.

The attitude of thanksgiving was characteristic of one of the great saints of the early Church, St John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, who experienced in his life much opposition and misunderstanding, and died in exile. According to his biographer, his constant response, whatever happened, was: "Glory to God for everything."

I am personally more comfortable with the approach of Fr Andrew than I am with the fundamentalist approach that elides historical questions altogether.  Who was it that said, in opposition to the Catholic understanding of infallibility, "Orthodoxy doesn't ask anyone to believe anything that isn't true"?   In any case, these kinds of hermeneutical questions must eventually be addressed, fully, competently, and courageously, by Orthodox theology.   

Are the Gospels more historically true that the Protoevangelium?  It would seem so from the text above.

M.

I think with the gospels, they are at least more credible (or the Fathers regarded them as being so). I also get the feeling that unlike the Dormition and the Entry of the Theotokos, the historical existence of an incarnate God born of a virgin is something central to our salvation. Whether the account of His mother going into the holy of holies at the age of three and being ministered to by angels until she turned 12 is an historical fact or is supposed to reflect some sort of typology is probably less central.

This is not the question I am asking.  Witega answered the question directly.  He says that the Gospels must be more historically true because they made it into the Canon and the Protoevangelium did not.

What evidence is there that the Gospels are historically true?

C'mon...the Jesus Seminar is not ancient history.

You are telling me that the Feast of the Entrance into the Temple is exempt from lex orandi because it is not historically true. [You...generic here...not anyone in particular: but rather than deal with the text we are now dealing with the historical critical method of assessing the what?...accuracy of something?...it's truth value?...etc.  To me it looks like a slide...or it is telling me that lex orandi only applies to those texts that are more palatable than others.]

Back it up with evidence or admit that liturgically the feast is quite open to lex orandi.

M.

Mary, you made the assertion that the liturgical text proves the Immaculate Conception. The burden of proof falls upon you to demonstrate that interpreting the text as an historical account is justifiable. You should know well enough that shifting the burden of proof upon the skeptic is a fallacy.

That being said, I never said that the doubts surrounding the historical truth of the Entrance into the Temple disqualified that particular feast from the rule of lex orandi lex credendi (I am curious where you got this particular false dilemma from). Truth is not correspondence, and not every single liturgical hymn was meant to be read as an historical account. What I mean to say is that we must take these factors into consideration when we are deciding how to interpret a text and extract its meaning. Just as an icon is not made true by its accuracy to the physical form of the person depicted (otherwise, we would venerate photographs of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco in lieu of icons), a liturgical or Scriptural text is not necessarily made true by its historical accuracy.

If the truth of the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos is to be found in the typology of the Theotokos as the archetype of the Old Temple, then it is hard to say that the texts describing her as being pure and immaculate must necessarily support the Immaculate Conception. Even if we are to admit your fallacious attempt to shift the burden of proof on me, and acknowledge without any demonstration that interpreting the text as an historical text is justifiable, it still offers poor support for the Immaculate Conception, just as St. Cyril's affirmation of one incarnate nature of the word offers poor support for Eutychianism. There is a big jump to make between 'immaculate' and 'free of the stain of Original sin, meaning the state of spiritual separation from God present at the moment of biological conception.'
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« Reply #148 on: June 06, 2012, 08:00:03 PM »

I am not surprised that the question of the historical accuracy of the claim that the Theotokos was raised in the Temple has been invoked in this thread.  This is a sensitive but ultimately unavoidable topic. Christianity is a historical religion.  It is therefore always appropriate to ask, Did it happen?  Modernity has posed this question in an especially acute manner regarding many of the Christian claims (the Exodus, the virginity of Mary, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.), and the the various Churches have answered in various ways.  How do we distinguish between fact and legend?  Is historical and scientific evidence irrelevant to faith?  I do not have the answers.

On 2 September 2006, the distinguished Orthodox theologian Andrew Louth published the following article in The Times:

Quote
"There is nothing untrue in the Protevangelion's joyful, inaccurate tales"

Next Friday, September 8, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, this is one of the 12 great feasts of the liturgical year. Like several other feasts of the Virgin, it draws its inspiration not from any of the canonical gospels, but from a late 2nd-century gospel, the so-called First Gospel of St James, the Protevangelion of St James.

This is one of the apocryphal gospels that attract perennial interest, often alleged to contain traditions of the "real truth of Christianity" and consequently to have been suppressed by the Church. The Protevangelion was not included in the canon of the Gospels, probably because of doubts about the historical accuracy of the stories it contained, which tell of the early life of the Blessed Virgin, from her conception by aged and barren parents, through her life in the temple, to her betrothal to Joseph and her giving birth, as a virgin, to the Son of God.

It is clearly a work of imagination; the meaning of the stories lies in their significance, not in their historical truth.

What is particularly striking about the Protevangelion is the way it associates the Virgin Mary with the Jewish Temple. In a wonderful scene, depicted unforgettably in the mosaic of the life of the Virgin in the inner narthex of Constantinople's Church of the Chora (Kariye Camii), the six-month-old Mary is placed by her mother, Anna, on the ground, and walks seven steps towards her mother. Anna vows that Mary will no more walk on the earth until she goes to the temple. She is presented at the temple, and lives there until the age of 12, when she is betrothed to Joseph. Later she is one of the virgins chosen to weave the cloth for the veil of the temple.

Much of this is historically implausible, but its significance lies in the fact that Mary is destined to be a living temple, in which God will dwell, and that she will weave in her womb the human nature of Christ: the flesh, called in the Epistle to the Hebrews the veil (Heb. x, 20). By her "Yes" to God, the Jewish girl Mary becomes God's dwelling place, a living temple. Or, to change the imagery, she becomes Paradise restored: as one of our Orthodox liturgical hymns puts it: "Her womb is shown to be the spiritual paradise, in which is the divine plant, eating of which we live, not like Adam who died. Christ is born, to raise up the fallen image."

Though there are many songs and hymns about the Virgin throughout Christendom, the West has often seemed to hanker after something more definite, either dismissing devotion to Mary on historical grounds, or expressing it in terms of defined dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, or the Assumption. The Christian East has remained content with celebration in song. The most famous Byzantine hymn to the Mother of God, the Akathist, cries out to her:

Hail, you through whom joy will shine out, Hail, you through whom the curse will cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam, Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for human thoughts, Hail, depth hard to scan even for angels' eyes.
Hail, for you are a throne for the King, Hail, for you carry the One who carries all.


There is perhaps a deeper reason behind the way the Christian East expresses its devotion to the Mother of God in song rather than in intricate theological definition. For song and celebration foster a fundamental attitude to the world and life of joy and thanksgiving. In contrast, one of the most insidious effects of sin, very evident in society today, is the way it leads to an approach to life characterised by suspicion, resentment and fear.

The attitude of thanksgiving was characteristic of one of the great saints of the early Church, St John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, who experienced in his life much opposition and misunderstanding, and died in exile. According to his biographer, his constant response, whatever happened, was: "Glory to God for everything."

I am personally more comfortable with the approach of Fr Andrew than I am with the fundamentalist approach that elides historical questions altogether.  Who was it that said, in opposition to the Catholic understanding of infallibility, "Orthodoxy doesn't ask anyone to believe anything that isn't true"?   In any case, these kinds of hermeneutical questions must eventually be addressed, fully, competently, and courageously, by Orthodox theology.  

Are the Gospels more historically true that the Protoevangelium?  It would seem so from the text above.

M.

I think with the gospels, they are at least more credible (or the Fathers regarded them as being so). I also get the feeling that unlike the Dormition and the Entry of the Theotokos, the historical existence of an incarnate God born of a virgin is something central to our salvation. Whether the account of His mother going into the holy of holies at the age of three and being ministered to by angels until she turned 12 is an historical fact or is supposed to reflect some sort of typology is probably less central.

This is not the question I am asking.  Witega answered the question directly.  He says that the Gospels must be more historically true because they made it into the Canon and the Protoevangelium did not.

What evidence is there that the Gospels are historically true?

C'mon...the Jesus Seminar is not ancient history.

You are telling me that the Feast of the Entrance into the Temple is exempt from lex orandi because it is not historically true. [You...generic here...not anyone in particular: but rather than deal with the text we are now dealing with the historical critical method of assessing the what?...accuracy of something?...it's truth value?...etc.  To me it looks like a slide...or it is telling me that lex orandi only applies to those texts that are more palatable than others.]

Back it up with evidence or admit that liturgically the feast is quite open to lex orandi.

M.
So we have to insist on the specific existence of a pharisee and a publican who actually went to the Temple at the same time, otherwise the Sunday of the Pharisee and Publican make no sense?  Because we sing the hymns of Judgement Sunday, the Last Judgement has now become subject to history, and historical scrutiny?  The hymns of the Annuciation record verbatum the dialogue between Gabriel and the Holy Theotokos?  St. Paul was present with the other Apostles-despite what the Book of Acts records-because he is in the icon with them? Christ really has a orb around His head with a Cross in it with "I AM" written (in what language?)?  St. John the Forerunner preached in the desert with a bowl with his head in it at his feet? And with wings?

Interesting the applications that lex orandi can be put to. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #149 on: June 06, 2012, 08:01:45 PM »

I am not surprised that the question of the historical accuracy of the claim that the Theotokos was raised in the Temple has been invoked in this thread.  This is a sensitive but ultimately unavoidable topic. Christianity is a historical religion.  It is therefore always appropriate to ask, Did it happen?  Modernity has posed this question in an especially acute manner regarding many of the Christian claims (the Exodus, the virginity of Mary, the resurrection of Jesus, etc.), and the the various Churches have answered in various ways.  How do we distinguish between fact and legend?  Is historical and scientific evidence irrelevant to faith?  I do not have the answers.

On 2 September 2006, the distinguished Orthodox theologian Andrew Louth published the following article in The Times:

Quote
"There is nothing untrue in the Protevangelion's joyful, inaccurate tales"

Next Friday, September 8, Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. For Eastern Orthodox Christians, this is one of the 12 great feasts of the liturgical year. Like several other feasts of the Virgin, it draws its inspiration not from any of the canonical gospels, but from a late 2nd-century gospel, the so-called First Gospel of St James, the Protevangelion of St James.

This is one of the apocryphal gospels that attract perennial interest, often alleged to contain traditions of the "real truth of Christianity" and consequently to have been suppressed by the Church. The Protevangelion was not included in the canon of the Gospels, probably because of doubts about the historical accuracy of the stories it contained, which tell of the early life of the Blessed Virgin, from her conception by aged and barren parents, through her life in the temple, to her betrothal to Joseph and her giving birth, as a virgin, to the Son of God.

It is clearly a work of imagination; the meaning of the stories lies in their significance, not in their historical truth.

What is particularly striking about the Protevangelion is the way it associates the Virgin Mary with the Jewish Temple. In a wonderful scene, depicted unforgettably in the mosaic of the life of the Virgin in the inner narthex of Constantinople's Church of the Chora (Kariye Camii), the six-month-old Mary is placed by her mother, Anna, on the ground, and walks seven steps towards her mother. Anna vows that Mary will no more walk on the earth until she goes to the temple. She is presented at the temple, and lives there until the age of 12, when she is betrothed to Joseph. Later she is one of the virgins chosen to weave the cloth for the veil of the temple.

Much of this is historically implausible, but its significance lies in the fact that Mary is destined to be a living temple, in which God will dwell, and that she will weave in her womb the human nature of Christ: the flesh, called in the Epistle to the Hebrews the veil (Heb. x, 20). By her "Yes" to God, the Jewish girl Mary becomes God's dwelling place, a living temple. Or, to change the imagery, she becomes Paradise restored: as one of our Orthodox liturgical hymns puts it: "Her womb is shown to be the spiritual paradise, in which is the divine plant, eating of which we live, not like Adam who died. Christ is born, to raise up the fallen image."

Though there are many songs and hymns about the Virgin throughout Christendom, the West has often seemed to hanker after something more definite, either dismissing devotion to Mary on historical grounds, or expressing it in terms of defined dogmas: the Immaculate Conception, or the Assumption. The Christian East has remained content with celebration in song. The most famous Byzantine hymn to the Mother of God, the Akathist, cries out to her:

Hail, you through whom joy will shine out, Hail, you through whom the curse will cease.
Hail, recalling of fallen Adam, Hail, redemption of the tears of Eve.
Hail, height hard to climb for human thoughts, Hail, depth hard to scan even for angels' eyes.
Hail, for you are a throne for the King, Hail, for you carry the One who carries all.


There is perhaps a deeper reason behind the way the Christian East expresses its devotion to the Mother of God in song rather than in intricate theological definition. For song and celebration foster a fundamental attitude to the world and life of joy and thanksgiving. In contrast, one of the most insidious effects of sin, very evident in society today, is the way it leads to an approach to life characterised by suspicion, resentment and fear.

The attitude of thanksgiving was characteristic of one of the great saints of the early Church, St John Chrysostom, the patriarch of Constantinople, who experienced in his life much opposition and misunderstanding, and died in exile. According to his biographer, his constant response, whatever happened, was: "Glory to God for everything."

I am personally more comfortable with the approach of Fr Andrew than I am with the fundamentalist approach that elides historical questions altogether.  Who was it that said, in opposition to the Catholic understanding of infallibility, "Orthodoxy doesn't ask anyone to believe anything that isn't true"?   In any case, these kinds of hermeneutical questions must eventually be addressed, fully, competently, and courageously, by Orthodox theology.   

Are the Gospels more historically true that the Protoevangelium?  It would seem so from the text above.

M.

I think with the gospels, they are at least more credible (or the Fathers regarded them as being so). I also get the feeling that unlike the Dormition and the Entry of the Theotokos, the historical existence of an incarnate God born of a virgin is something central to our salvation. Whether the account of His mother going into the holy of holies at the age of three and being ministered to by angels until she turned 12 is an historical fact or is supposed to reflect some sort of typology is probably less central.

This is not the question I am asking.  Witega answered the question directly.  He says that the Gospels must be more historically true because they made it into the Canon and the Protoevangelium did not.

What evidence is there that the Gospels are historically true?

C'mon...the Jesus Seminar is not ancient history.

You are telling me that the Feast of the Entrance into the Temple is exempt from lex orandi because it is not historically true. [You...generic here...not anyone in particular: but rather than deal with the text we are now dealing with the historical critical method of assessing the what?...accuracy of something?...it's truth value?...etc.  To me it looks like a slide...or it is telling me that lex orandi only applies to those texts that are more palatable than others.]

Back it up with evidence or admit that liturgically the feast is quite open to lex orandi.

M.

Mary, you made the assertion that the liturgical text proves the Immaculate Conception. The burden of proof falls upon you to demonstrate that interpreting the text as an historical account is justifiable. You should know well enough that shifting the burden of proof upon the skeptic is a fallacy.

That being said, I never said that the doubts surrounding the historical truth of the Entrance into the Temple disqualified that particular feast from the rule of lex orandi lex credendi (I am curious where you got this particular false dilemma from). Truth is not correspondence, and not every single liturgical hymn was meant to be read as an historical account. What I mean to say is that we must take these factors into consideration when we are deciding how to interpret a text and extract its meaning. Just as an icon is not made true by its accuracy to the physical form of the person depicted (otherwise, we would venerate photographs of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco in lieu of icons), a liturgical or Scriptural text is not necessarily made true by its historical accuracy.

If the truth of the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos is to be found in the typology of the Theotokos as the archetype of the Old Temple, then it is hard to say that the texts describing her as being pure and immaculate must necessarily support the Immaculate Conception. Even if we are to admit your fallacious attempt to shift the burden of proof on me, and acknowledge without any demonstration that interpreting the text as an historical text is justifiable, it still offers poor support for the Immaculate Conception, just as St. Cyril's affirmation of one incarnate nature of the word offers poor support for Eutychianism. There is a big jump to make between 'immaculate' and 'free of the stain of Original sin, meaning the state of spiritual separation from God present at the moment of biological conception.'

In all of the time that I've presented these texts I have NEVER EVER EVER said that they "prove" the Immaculate Conception.  So please go over your response with that fact in mind.
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« Reply #150 on: June 06, 2012, 08:05:03 PM »



 Even if we are to admit your fallacious attempt to shift the burden of proof on me, and acknowledge without any demonstration that interpreting the text as an historical text is justifiable...

Please note that I made an especial effort to go back into my note and say EXPLICITLY that the YOU in my note did not belong at all to YOU specifically...I did do that.  It's on the record.
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« Reply #151 on: June 06, 2012, 08:09:52 PM »

Several times in the text that I presented for the Feast of the Presentation of the Theotokos there is reference to her having no "spot" and no "stain" of sin...AND...no sin in her body...at the age of three I doubt the latter is a reference to her Virginity.

IF IF IF those texts are derived from references in the Holy Fathers to "spot" and "stain" when talking about sin then one might reasonably surmise that they are ALSO references to no spot or stain of original sin.

The reference to the spot or stain of original sin began with the Holy Fathers and NOT in the west.

There are other things that are strong markers indicating that Virgin was never touched by sin on her  person...And then one may presume that would be since the time of her becoming a person. 

Frankly I don't really give a rat's toot what you call it.

I call it free from all stain of sin...different from all others of her kind...as the hymns say.
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« Reply #152 on: June 06, 2012, 08:12:38 PM »

In all of the time that I've presented these texts I have NEVER EVER EVER said that they "prove" the Immaculate Conception.  So please go over your response with that fact in mind.


Very well, but then what was your purpose in posting that text? Were you trying to ask how we can understand that text if we deny the IC? If so, then I think you got your answer, so there's no real point in disputing it any further. Were you trying to demonstrate that the IC is a justifiable belief within Orthodoxy? Then I wouldn't disagree with you, except for the objection that if the belief is acceptable within Orthodoxy, then there is not need for you to raise any dispute over it. So what exactly was your purpose in posting that text?
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« Reply #153 on: June 06, 2012, 08:14:49 PM »

In all of the time that I've presented these texts I have NEVER EVER EVER said that they "prove" the Immaculate Conception.  So please go over your response with that fact in mind.


Very well, but then what was your purpose in posting that text? Were you trying to ask how we can understand that text if we deny the IC? If so, then I think you got your answer, so there's no real point in disputing it any further. Were you trying to demonstrate that the IC is a justifiable belief within Orthodoxy? Then I wouldn't disagree with you, except for the objection that if the belief is acceptable within Orthodoxy, then there is not need for you to raise any dispute over it. So what exactly was your purpose in posting that text?

what?  Is there a straight line that we can follow to get to the same message.  See my note above...in any event.
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« Reply #154 on: June 06, 2012, 08:22:37 PM »

In all of the time that I've presented these texts I have NEVER EVER EVER said that they "prove" the Immaculate Conception.  So please go over your response with that fact in mind.


Very well, but then what was your purpose in posting that text? Were you trying to ask how we can understand that text if we deny the IC? If so, then I think you got your answer, so there's no real point in disputing it any further. Were you trying to demonstrate that the IC is a justifiable belief within Orthodoxy? Then I wouldn't disagree with you, except for the objection that if the belief is acceptable within Orthodoxy, then there is not need for you to raise any dispute over it. So what exactly was your purpose in posting that text?

what?  Is there a straight line that we can follow to get to the same message.  See my note above...in any event.

So what were you attempting to demonstrate by posting that liturgical text? If you are attempting to demonstrate the truth of the IC, then I can hardly see how you are not attempting to use the hymnography of the feast of the Entry of the Theotokos as evidence for the IC.
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« Reply #155 on: June 06, 2012, 08:23:42 PM »

With respect to the quoted text:  One of the major objections raised among some Orthodox who speak out against the Immaculate Conception is that the teaching makes the Mother of God different from all other human beings.  

Yet right there in a liturgical text is the clear assertion that she is in fact unique and not like the rest of us...

These are the points I am trying to raise.  The very arguments you make are refuted by your own liturgical hymns.

YOU BEING GENERIC HERE
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« Reply #156 on: June 06, 2012, 08:29:02 PM »

In all of the time that I've presented these texts I have NEVER EVER EVER said that they "prove" the Immaculate Conception.  So please go over your response with that fact in mind.


Very well, but then what was your purpose in posting that text? Were you trying to ask how we can understand that text if we deny the IC? If so, then I think you got your answer, so there's no real point in disputing it any further. Were you trying to demonstrate that the IC is a justifiable belief within Orthodoxy? Then I wouldn't disagree with you, except for the objection that if the belief is acceptable within Orthodoxy, then there is not need for you to raise any dispute over it. So what exactly was your purpose in posting that text?

what?  Is there a straight line that we can follow to get to the same message.  See my note above...in any event.

So what were you attempting to demonstrate by posting that liturgical text? If you are attempting to demonstrate the truth of the IC, then I can hardly see how you are not attempting to use the hymnography of the feast of the Entry of the Theotokos as evidence for the IC.

I am specifically trying to point out that even if you cannot get patristic consensus out of some of the statements of the Holy Fathers concerning the ever-sinlessness of the Virgin:  Orthodox liturgical hymnography actually weakens most of the standard arguments used against the so-called Immaculate Deception.

So if the hymns of that feast do not PROVE an Immaculate Conception they certainly do make it more difficult to argue against.

Believing that the Mother of God has never been touched by sin of any kind is a matter of faith, and a matter of choice in which of the Fathers to be best suited to make the claims as to her personal state of being human.  I will spend my time with those who stress the uniqueness of her sinlessness.  But that is a choice that I make...in faith...not by rational argumentation.  I am happy always to sing the Hymns of the Feast of the Presentation.

 Smiley

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« Reply #157 on: June 06, 2012, 08:29:25 PM »

I call it free from all stain of sin...different from all others of her kind...as the hymns say.

What is that even supposed to mean? I presume you are not saying that she was not consubstantial with us--which would land you in thoroughly condemned Eutychian territory. So if she's consubstantial with us then that means there are certain things she shares with every other human, and certain things in which she is different from all others of her kind--which is true of every human individual and doesn't take us anywhere theologically.
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« Reply #158 on: June 06, 2012, 08:31:29 PM »

I call it free from all stain of sin...different from all others of her kind...as the hymns say.

What is that even supposed to mean? I presume you are not saying that she was not consubstantial with us--which would land you in thoroughly condemned Eutychian territory. So if she's consubstantial with us then that means there are certain things she shares with every other human, and certain things in which she is different from all others of her kind--which is true of every human individual and doesn't take us anywhere theologically.

It is your set of liturgical hymns.  You worry with it. 

I am just a simple woman who prays.
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« Reply #159 on: June 06, 2012, 08:32:59 PM »

My issue has always been with the IC:  "why stop there"?  If the blemish or stain or any other such word of original sin (or whatever you would like to call it) affected Christ b/c it affected the Virgin Mary, and so we can't have that, so we make the Theotokos without sin....then why stop there?  

Perhaps i'm being too simplistic, but I know I need an answer to that question before I can move on with any kind of more intense conversation.  
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« Reply #160 on: June 06, 2012, 08:34:34 PM »

Several times in the text that I presented for the Feast of the Presentation of the Theotokos there is reference to her having no "spot" and no "stain" of sin...AND...no sin in her body...at the age of three I doubt the latter is a reference to her Virginity.

Nobody would argue that. But it is still possible that pure and spotless mean something else.

IF IF IF those texts are derived from references in the Holy Fathers to "spot" and "stain" when talking about sin then one might reasonably surmise that they are ALSO references to no spot or stain of original sin.

But how is this affirmation justified? What language from the Fathers can be used to demonstrate that pure and immaculate connote being free from the stain of original sin (by which you mean the darkening of the nous, which causes separation from God)? This is an important epistemological question that needs to be answered sufficiently.

The reference to the spot or stain of original sin began with the Holy Fathers and NOT in the west.

Admitting without any evidence that the fathers used the term 'stain of original sin', can it be demonstrated that there is continuity between what the Fathers meant by 'stain of original sin' and what is meant by the IC?

There are other things that are strong markers indicating that Virgin was never touched by sin on her  person...And then one may presume that would be since the time of her becoming a person. 

Frankly I don't really give a rat's toot what you call it.

I call it free from all stain of sin...different from all others of her kind...as the hymns say.

And in virtue of what would the hymns extol her as being different from the rest of humanity? Even the hymns you posted from the Entry are clearly related to her eventual role as the Temple of God, the instrument of the incarnation. Why then must the hymns be understood specifically to mean the IC?
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« Reply #161 on: June 06, 2012, 08:41:41 PM »

My issue has always been with the IC:  "why stop there"?  If the blemish or stain or any other such word of original sin (or whatever you would like to call it) affected Christ b/c it affected the Virgin Mary, and so we can't have that, so we make the Theotokos without sin....then why stop there?  

Perhaps i'm being too simplistic, but I know I need an answer to that question before I can move on with any kind of more intense conversation.  

The error that you make is presuming that the definition of the sinlessness of the Mother of God, from the moment of her becoming a person, is a definition born of necessity.  It is not.  It clearly says it is not in the apostolic constitution.

The gift of sinlessness is a free gift from God to the woman that would carry God in her womb and give him her flesh.  Period.  That is all there is to that part of it.

Just give that as much thought for as long as you've given your original idea and see what you come up with then...not tonight...not tomorrow...later. 

The Immaculate Conception is no more necessary than any of God's other gifts freely given.
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« Reply #162 on: June 06, 2012, 08:42:54 PM »

I call it free from all stain of sin...different from all others of her kind...as the hymns say.

What is that even supposed to mean? I presume you are not saying that she was not consubstantial with us--which would land you in thoroughly condemned Eutychian territory. So if she's consubstantial with us then that means there are certain things she shares with every other human, and certain things in which she is different from all others of her kind--which is true of every human individual and doesn't take us anywhere theologically.

It is your set of liturgical hymns.  You worry with it. 

I am just a simple woman who prays.

Again 'huh'? The word 'different' or 'differ' doesn't appear in any of the hymns you quoted, nor does the word 'unique'. So those are your words--which is why I'm asking you.
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« Reply #163 on: June 06, 2012, 08:47:24 PM »

Several times in the text that I presented for the Feast of the Presentation of the Theotokos there is reference to her having no "spot" and no "stain" of sin...AND...no sin in her body...at the age of three I doubt the latter is a reference to her Virginity.

Nobody would argue that. But it is still possible that pure and spotless mean something else.

IF IF IF those texts are derived from references in the Holy Fathers to "spot" and "stain" when talking about sin then one might reasonably surmise that they are ALSO references to no spot or stain of original sin.

But how is this affirmation justified? What language from the Fathers can be used to demonstrate that pure and immaculate connote being free from the stain of original sin (by which you mean the darkening of the nous, which causes separation from God)? This is an important epistemological question that needs to be answered sufficiently.

The reference to the spot or stain of original sin began with the Holy Fathers and NOT in the west.

Admitting without any evidence that the fathers used the term 'stain of original sin', can it be demonstrated that there is continuity between what the Fathers meant by 'stain of original sin' and what is meant by the IC?

There are other things that are strong markers indicating that Virgin was never touched by sin on her  person...And then one may presume that would be since the time of her becoming a person. 

Frankly I don't really give a rat's toot what you call it.

I call it free from all stain of sin...different from all others of her kind...as the hymns say.

And in virtue of what would the hymns extol her as being different from the rest of humanity? Even the hymns you posted from the Entry are clearly related to her eventual role as the Temple of God, the instrument of the incarnation. Why then must the hymns be understood specifically to mean the IC?

I could address each point and wind up with resistance.

I will say this much:  The Holy Fathers most always spoke of original sin as the stain or blemish or spot of original sin.  It is unique language that stands out and becomes mimetic for the ancestral sin.  

If you want to argue that this time it is different...then I have to leave that to you or anyone who would wish to make the exception.

The answers to the rest of your concerns are similar in kind.  There are no real proofs for faith...well none that MUST be believed without a shadow of a doubt.
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« Reply #164 on: June 06, 2012, 09:24:27 PM »

My issue has always been with the IC:  "why stop there"?  If the blemish or stain or any other such word of original sin (or whatever you would like to call it) affected Christ b/c it affected the Virgin Mary, and so we can't have that, so we make the Theotokos without sin....then why stop there?  

Perhaps i'm being too simplistic, but I know I need an answer to that question before I can move on with any kind of more intense conversation.  

I've said this already: did anybody else in history have to prepare to give birth to Jesus?

It's hard enough for anyone to raise any child. Think how much more protection the Mother of God would need.

What secretly bothers many people about this, I think, is something they are reluctant to admit: that the Mother of God was more special than the rest of us, and that we are, conversely, not as special. Much of Christianity, even the non-Protestant churches, has been poisoned by osmosis from the anti-saints sentiment in those churches and the insistence that we must all be equal in this life as much as the next. I have no problem saying that God loves us all equally. But we don't all live the same life in this world.

Why is the state of being blessed by God and given unique strength so hard to contemplate? Why wouldn't God protect the woman He picked to be Jesus' mother?

That type of blessing seems to me to be a sort of spiritual life insurance. Mary simply needed more help than others. The task of protecting and guiding Christ Our Savior is even more demanding than doing the same for any other child.

I don't see what the problem is.
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« Reply #165 on: June 06, 2012, 09:48:21 PM »

My issue has always been with the IC:  "why stop there"?  If the blemish or stain or any other such word of original sin (or whatever you would like to call it) affected Christ b/c it affected the Virgin Mary, and so we can't have that, so we make the Theotokos without sin....then why stop there?  

Perhaps i'm being too simplistic, but I know I need an answer to that question before I can move on with any kind of more intense conversation.  

I've said this already: did anybody else in history have to prepare to give birth to Jesus?

It's hard enough for anyone to raise any child. Think how much more protection the Mother of God would need.

What secretly bothers many people about this, I think, is something they are reluctant to admit: that the Mother of God was more special than the rest of us, and that we are, conversely, not as special. Much of Christianity, even the non-Protestant churches, has been poisoned by osmosis from the anti-saints sentiment in those churches and the insistence that we must all be equal in this life as much as the next. I have no problem saying that God loves us all equally. But we don't all live the same life in this world.

Why is the state of being blessed by God and given unique strength so hard to contemplate? Why wouldn't God protect the woman He picked to be Jesus' mother?

That type of blessing seems to me to be a sort of spiritual life insurance. Mary simply needed more help than others. The task of protecting and guiding Christ Our Savior is even more demanding than doing the same for any other child.

I don't see what the problem is.

How is having the perfect child more difficult than what other mother's have to deal with?

(And in my own experience, a lot of Orthodox object to the idea of the Immaculate Conception for the exact opposite reason of what you propose. If the Theotokos received, from the moment of her own conception, a special and unique grace separating her from the fallen state the rest of us are born into, then, the argument goes, it actually makes her virtue *less* impressive, as she didn't have to struggle as hard to achieve it or overcome the same level of level of spiritual blindness/isolation/death as the rest of us. If everyone starts running a marathon from the same place, and one person finishes in half the time of everybody else, that's impressive and amazing. But if that one person started out actually a step from the finish line while everyone else had to run the full marathon, their 'victory' isn't very impressive at all).
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« Reply #166 on: June 06, 2012, 09:54:22 PM »

Because Jesus is different from you.

Wouldn't you be even more scared if you had to be the mother of the Incarnate God?

 Huh

That right there would be enough to make me have a heart attack.

Again, the Smothers Brothers argument: Someone likes you better than me!

This is that post-Enlightenment insistence that we've got to all be evened out. It can't be that God's goals for one person's life are different from another. It can't be that someone else will have a harder life than another.

Or, maybe the Lord works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.
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« Reply #167 on: June 06, 2012, 10:19:03 PM »

Quote
In all of the time that I've presented these texts I have NEVER EVER EVER said that they "prove" the Immaculate Conception.  So please go over your response with that fact in mind.

You've obviously forgotten this thread, EM, and related ones:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23379.msg430645.html#msg430645

more specifically, from this post onward: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23379.msg433631.html#msg433631

Isa, here's the hymnography for the Eastern Catholic feast of the Conception of the Mother of God:

Quote
It is fitting that the Queen of heaven and earth,
who is more precious than the Cherubim,
and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim,
be conceived and remain immaculate as the angels,
so that they who are servants of the Lord
can boast of their own Queen, the Mother of God.
Glory and praise to the Lord who willed it so,
the Creator of all things.

It is fitting that the unique and chosen woman
be conceived without sin,

and the power of Satan is now taken away;
for the Mother of God will never bow before him.
Glory and praise to the Lord who willed it so,
the Creator of all things.

It is fitting that the Second Eve
be created and remain without sin
in the manner of the Second Adam;

for the rebirth of mankind now takes place,
just as the fall came through the first Adam and the first Eve.
Christ has renewed all through his new birth,
and it was Mary that gave birth to Him.
Glory and praise to the Lord who willed it so,
the Creator of all things.

Glory… Now…

Before the nativity of the Son of God,
it was fitting for the Father
to bestow the most pure conception upon the Mother of God,
who is betrothed of the Holy Spirit,
that she might be filled with heavenly gifts
in a manner beyond all other creatures.
Glory and praise to the Lord who willed it so,
the Creator of all things.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23379.msg435098.html#msg435098

Proof that the Orthodox feast of the Conception of the Mother of God is a low-ranking feast, without a Litia, unlike the Eastern Catholic feast which is a full vigil:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23379.msg435114.html#msg435114

Links to other relevant posts:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23379.msg435694.html#msg435694
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23379.msg435958.html#msg435958
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23379.msg437268.html#msg437268
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23379.msg437500.html#msg437500

and this one, a compilation of EM's assertions that the IC was originally Orthodox doctrine, but later suppressed:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23379.msg438674.html#msg438674



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« Reply #168 on: June 06, 2012, 11:24:44 PM »

Because Jesus is different from you.

Wouldn't you be even more scared if you had to be the mother of the Incarnate God?

 Huh

That right there would be enough to make me have a heart attack.

Again, the Smothers Brothers argument: Someone likes you better than me!

This is that post-Enlightenment insistence that we've got to all be evened out. It can't be that God's goals for one person's life are different from another. It can't be that someone else will have a harder life than another.

Or, maybe the Lord works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.

But according to the most basic patristic thought, God's goal is the same for all of us: theosis. Providentially, His will may differ for us, but we are all made for the same end.
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« Reply #169 on: June 06, 2012, 11:34:09 PM »

"The greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven," anyone?

Yes, God's love for us all is the same, but He prepares us differently for our lives on Earth because our lives are different.

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« Reply #170 on: June 07, 2012, 03:53:00 AM »

My issue has always been with the IC:  "why stop there"?  If the blemish or stain or any other such word of original sin (or whatever you would like to call it) affected Christ b/c it affected the Virgin Mary, and so we can't have that, so we make the Theotokos without sin....then why stop there?  

Perhaps i'm being too simplistic, but I know I need an answer to that question before I can move on with any kind of more intense conversation.  

The error that you make is presuming that the definition of the sinlessness of the Mother of God, from the moment of her becoming a person, is a definition born of necessity.  It is not.  It clearly says it is not in the apostolic constitution.

The gift of sinlessness is a free gift from God to the woman that would carry God in her womb and give him her flesh.  Period.  That is all there is to that part of it.

Just give that as much thought for as long as you've given your original idea and see what you come up with then...not tonight...not tomorrow...later. 

The Immaculate Conception is no more necessary than any of God's other gifts freely given.

I will definitely think about it!

Again bringing it to my point, if it's just a gift, how is it dogmatic? How does that gift necessitate salvation?
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« Reply #171 on: June 07, 2012, 03:53:59 AM »

My issue has always been with the IC:  "why stop there"?  If the blemish or stain or any other such word of original sin (or whatever you would like to call it) affected Christ b/c it affected the Virgin Mary, and so we can't have that, so we make the Theotokos without sin....then why stop there?  

Perhaps i'm being too simplistic, but I know I need an answer to that question before I can move on with any kind of more intense conversation.  

I've said this already: did anybody else in history have to prepare to give birth to Jesus?

It's hard enough for anyone to raise any child. Think how much more protection the Mother of God would need.

What secretly bothers many people about this, I think, is something they are reluctant to admit: that the Mother of God was more special than the rest of us, and that we are, conversely, not as special. Much of Christianity, even the non-Protestant churches, has been poisoned by osmosis from the anti-saints sentiment in those churches and the insistence that we must all be equal in this life as much as the next. I have no problem saying that God loves us all equally. But we don't all live the same life in this world.

Why is the state of being blessed by God and given unique strength so hard to contemplate? Why wouldn't God protect the woman He picked to be Jesus' mother?

That type of blessing seems to me to be a sort of spiritual life insurance. Mary simply needed more help than others. The task of protecting and guiding Christ Our Savior is even more demanding than doing the same for any other child.

I don't see what the problem is.

I'm gonna give this some more thought tomorrow. Too late for thinking tonight
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« Reply #172 on: June 07, 2012, 03:55:26 AM »

My issue has always been with the IC:  "why stop there"?  If the blemish or stain or any other such word of original sin (or whatever you would like to call it) affected Christ b/c it affected the Virgin Mary, and so we can't have that, so we make the Theotokos without sin....then why stop there?  

Perhaps i'm being too simplistic, but I know I need an answer to that question before I can move on with any kind of more intense conversation.  

I've said this already: did anybody else in history have to prepare to give birth to Jesus?

It's hard enough for anyone to raise any child. Think how much more protection the Mother of God would need.

What secretly bothers many people about this, I think, is something they are reluctant to admit: that the Mother of God was more special than the rest of us, and that we are, conversely, not as special. Much of Christianity, even the non-Protestant churches, has been poisoned by osmosis from the anti-saints sentiment in those churches and the insistence that we must all be equal in this life as much as the next. I have no problem saying that God loves us all equally. But we don't all live the same life in this world.

Why is the state of being blessed by God and given unique strength so hard to contemplate? Why wouldn't God protect the woman He picked to be Jesus' mother?

That type of blessing seems to me to be a sort of spiritual life insurance. Mary simply needed more help than others. The task of protecting and guiding Christ Our Savior is even more demanding than doing the same for any other child.

I don't see what the problem is.

How is having the perfect child more difficult than what other mother's have to deal with?

(And in my own experience, a lot of Orthodox object to the idea of the Immaculate Conception for the exact opposite reason of what you propose. If the Theotokos received, from the moment of her own conception, a special and unique grace separating her from the fallen state the rest of us are born into, then, the argument goes, it actually makes her virtue *less* impressive, as she didn't have to struggle as hard to achieve it or overcome the same level of level of spiritual blindness/isolation/death as the rest of us. If everyone starts running a marathon from the same place, and one person finishes in half the time of everybody else, that's impressive and amazing. But if that one person started out actually a step from the finish line while everyone else had to run the full marathon, their 'victory' isn't very impressive at all).

I'm with you on this. That's exactly my major objection to the idea. In my opinion it lessens the Theotokos - it's certainly got nothing to do with some 'Protestant' anti-saint sentiment (to be honest I can't actually believe that such a possibility was even seriously raised in regards to Orthodox opposition to the Immaculate Conception). For some reason, however, no RC I've spoken to has ever seemed to understand what I was talking about when I've said this.

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« Reply #173 on: June 07, 2012, 05:19:27 AM »

Quote
I agree, good points there.

It is my understanding that Ancestral Sin is the world that we are born into.  A fallen and sinful world made possible by our first parents.  Original Sin as the RCC teaches, is a guilt that is inherited by all humans which I do not ascribe to.

Uh...not quite.  Have you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #396-421?



5. If anyone denies that by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted, or says that the whole of that which belongs to the essence of sin is not taken away, but says that it is only canceled or not imputed, let him be anathema.
http://www.ewtn.com/library/councils/trent5.htm#1
THE COUNCIL OF TRENT  
Session V - Celebrated on the seventeenth day of June, 1546 under Pope Paul III
Decree Concerning Original Sin

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« Reply #174 on: June 07, 2012, 11:08:51 AM »

I was not aware that Orthodoxy now submits its liturgical texts to the critical historical method before deciding on whether or not it stands up to lex orandi....good to know.   Does anyone know if that how they set up their Scriptural exegesis as well?

M.

Must something correspond to history in order to be true? Is the truth of the Entry of the Theotokos  or of the Dormition to be found in their historical accuracy?

If something is true, and is said to have occurred in human history, how can there *not* be some kind of historical correspondence? 

For all the historical evidence we have there may never have been a Virgin Mother of God.  I am missing your point.

I don't believe J Michael's statement was in regard to historical evidence.

Indeed.  That is why I explicitly said that I was missing his point.  I'm sure he'll get back to me as he has time.

Wow--the conversation's moved on somewhat since yesterday, and much of it I find somewhat difficult to digest intellectually.  Meaning, it's a little over my head.  Oh well.

So, I'll address your post, Mary, and add a few random thoughts sparked by what I've read here and hopefully understood.

I think my question above *was* somewhat unclear, reflecting my own lack of clarity.  It came out awkwardly and I understand how you missed my point--looking back I'm not entirely sure just what my point *was*  Embarrassed.  What I do know is that I wasn't equating truth to historical accuracy or historical evidence.   Let me try to put it by way of one or more of the "random thoughts" I had, and hopefully that'll make more sense.

Here goes nuttin': With regard to the Immaculate Conception, and the quotes provided from the Orthodox liturgical services, why say the Theotokos was "pure" and "immaculate", if she was not?  Why would the Fathers write some of the things quoted here about her that would at the very least intimate as to her being immaculately conceived if they were untrue?  Were they and the liturgical composers carried away with religious fervor and ecstasy that resulted in untrue hyperbole?  If that's the case, the ramifications of that are, to me, a little frightful.  What of what was written can we trust, or is it all ecstatic exaggeration?  What does that say about the Faith handed down to us?  I'm not looking for *historical evidence*, because faith transcends that.  It does not, as far as my little pea-brain knows, however, transcend *truth*. 

I hope that's clearer and makes slightly more sense  Wink!  (If it isn't and doesn't, I may just have to retire from this discussion for a while and partake of my Stress Reduction Kit and a beer or 4--biro, dear friend, I invite you to join me if you feel so inclined  Grin  Grin Grin!)
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« Reply #175 on: June 07, 2012, 11:41:46 AM »

Quote
In all of the time that I've presented these texts I have NEVER EVER EVER said that they "prove" the Immaculate Conception.  So please go over your response with that fact in mind.

You've obviously forgotten this thread, EM, and related ones:


Forgotten?...no.  I've dismissed most of it as shuckin' and jivin'

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« Reply #176 on: June 07, 2012, 11:47:55 AM »



I am older than you are Joe and I never was taught that original sin was any kind of personal sin guilt, so I expect...hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.....that you had your hearing aide turned off.

[/quote]

Im NOT talking about personal Guilt, but the guilt that was passed down by Adam's sin.  And the Sisters of St. Joseph were very capable in teaching the faith that I was a part of at that time.   The Diocesan priests also in H.S. affirmed this Guilt as well.  They all cant be dummies.
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« Reply #177 on: June 07, 2012, 11:50:51 AM »


Again bringing it to my point, if it's just a gift, how is it dogmatic? How does that gift necessitate salvation?

It depends on how you understand what is "necessary to salvation"....

Most people understand it as they understand air being necessary for them to live...or food...or water...all taken separately and individually.

As I was taught something being "necessary for salvation" is a reference to one's relationship to the Church and the Church's relationship to the universal truth of revelation, from Tradition and Scripture.  So it really is a reference to the wholeness or catholicity of Church teaching with each element being important in either being central to or supportive of the truths of salvation, the truths of revelation.

It is not a juridical term at all.  Dogma are pieces of the truth that are defined more clearly that other parts of doctrine in order to help make them more clear to the faithful.  That is their function, although they are seen as some sort of greater truth-lesser truth...or something.  I really do not understand how most of you folks here see these things actually.  The way you talk about it is very foreign to me.  The fact that you insist you are right ranges my emotional responses somewhere between annoyance and amusement.   

The only thing that gets me is that the schism is kept alive active and bleeding by attitudes that are fed by this kind of crippled understanding...not just on the Orthodox side.  I hear the same kind of senseless nonsense coming from Catholics who have no experience of Orthodoxy.

M.
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« Reply #178 on: June 07, 2012, 11:58:15 AM »

IMHO, there is only one good Orthodox response to the Latin doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, namely, a full-bodied exposition of the holiness and purity of the Theotokos within the context of Israel and her intimate relationship with the Incarnate Son.  

This is why I once again reiterate: we do not need the IC dogma to speak of the life-long purity and sinlessness of the Virgin Mary.  It is simply irrelevant to our faith. The immaculate purity and sinlessness of the Theotokos is a deep part of our Tradition, enshrined in hymnody, liturgy, icon, and homily.  If we are not well acquainted with this part of our Tradition (and I am just beginning to learn it), then that is the task before us.   And if we are hesitant to wholeheartedly affirm the the immaculate purity of the Virgin, perhaps because of the few and occasional comments by St John Chrysostom and St Basil, among others, I can only suggest that those comments are firmly contradicted by the Tradition as a whole.  Perhaps I am wrong, but if I am, I have plenty of Orthodox company.  

Germane to this discussion are the following passages.  

Met Kallistos Ware on St John of Damascus:

Quote
John believes that Mary underwent a special purification and hallowing at the moment of the annunciation, when "the sanctifying power of the Spirit overshadowed, cleansed and consecrated her." But this does not signify that, in John's view, she was sinful prior to the annunciation; on the contrary, he clearly considers that she was always pure and guiltless. Moreover, he also states clearly that she was predestined from all eternity to be the Mother of God incarnate: "She was chosen from ancient generation, through the preordained counsel and good pleasure of God the Father ... The Father forechose her, the prophets through the Holy Spirit proclaimed her in advance.  ("'The Earthly Heaven':  The Mother of God in the Teaching of St John of Damascus," in Mary for Earth and Heaven (2002)

George S. Gabriel:

Quote
Through the Holy Spirit, the hidden mystery of the Incarnation was cultivating the holy generations of Israel as the fertile ground for the Virgin, "the rod which sprang from the root of Jesse."  She was the "precious jewel stored up in the [Old Testament] church of our ancestors" [Modestus of Jerusalem].  The Scriptures record a series of theophanies of the Lord of Glory visiting with the holy people of Israel and prefiguring His future manhood.  This continuous succession of grace, illumination, and divinization in which many men and women knew the Lord of Glory confirms the continuous operation of the hidden mystery throughout the history of Old Israel.

The holiness of Old Israel, therefore, led to Joachim and Anna.  The Fathers say of Joachim and Anna, "In their time, they were the pinnacle of virtue in a succession of chosen and hallowed generations" [Gregory Palamas].  Anna, through her mother, was of the royal house of David, the son of Jesse.  And through her father, Matthan the priest, she was of the Levites as well, the priestly tribe.  Joachim and Joseph were also of the house of David.

The Fathers speak of a special sanctity imparted to the Virgin in her mother's womb, arising from her parents' holiness and sobriety and the "spotless seed" of her father.  Among the ancient Jews, it was not so uncommon for illumined parents to have children who from birth were already illumined.  For example, the great Prophets Jeremiah and John the Forerunner were "filled with the Holy Spirit, even from [their] mother's womb."  Al the more is this true of the Theotokos.

Born of a barren mother, she conceived a Child without a father's seed and rejected all considerations about a life of her own, of living for herself.  "She lived a life that was above nature, not her 'own' life, because she was not born 'for herself.'  Indeed, she lived for God.  She came into life for Him, to serve in the salvation of the world so that 'the ancient will of God' for the Incarnation of the Logos and our own theosis may be fulfilled through her.  Her hunger was rather for nourishment by divine words, and by their nectar she increased.  And in the temple of God, she became like a fruitful olive tree, a tree planted by the banks of the streams of the Spirit, a tree of life which, at the time appointed by God, brought forth its fruit: God in the flesh, the Life Eternal for all His creatures" [John of Damascus].

The holiness and "successive ascent of chosen and cleansed generations of [the Theotokos'] ancestors was a preparation" [Gregory Palamas] and cultivation that led directly to her conception.  Through her, the Mosaic Law arrived at the threshold of its fulfillment, and God's promise to the world and covenant with Abraham was fulfilled:  "God promised Abraham the forefather that in his seed shall the nations be blessed, O Pure One.  And through you the promise comes to pass this day" [Six Ode, Matins of the Annunciation].  The coming of the Virgin had been prefigured by the overwhelming presence of glory in the ark or vessel of the covenant, both in the time of Moses and in the veil, the ark of the covenant, the golden censer, the sacred table and the shewbread, the golden urn of manna, the lamps and all the vessels were all prefiguring of her.

When Mary, the living temple of God, enters into the holy of holies, the old temple's passing is foreshown:  "Receiving the Untrodden Portal today, the house of God terminates the worship and shadow under the Law, and it cries aloud, Verily, the truth has appeared to those on earth" [Fourth Ode, Matins of the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple].  The temple receives the East Portal prophesied by Ezekiel and it is completed at last, not in its architecture but in its divine purpose.  Mary the Ever-Virgin is the East Portal which "shall be shut … and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel shall enter by it … and he shall depart from the same way."  With her entry, the Purest Temple of the Savior, the treasure house of the glory of God, she introduces her grace indwelling in the Holy Spirit into the house of God" [Kontakion of the Entry], and thereby "the temple receives her as its diadem" (Sixth Ode, Matins of the Entry].

By her divine preparation in the temple, she became the "chamber" of the Incarnate Lord of Glory, fulfilling the temple's purpose and destiny and all that was prefigured by it.  The Theotokos is the living promise and connection of the temple's participation in the mystery of the Incarnation:  "The fulfillment of the prophecy that the fallen temple of David would be raised up again is prefigured by her, through whom the dust of the earth that all men are made of is refashioned in a body for God" [Ninth Ode, Canon 2, Matins of the Birth of the Theotokos]. Therefore, she is the living proof of the temple's fulfillment and, in turn, she prefigures the temple's passing and its rebirth in the Body of Christ.  God has declared "a new covenant; He hath made the first obsolete.  That which is obsolete and aged is ready to vanish."  The Old Testament Church, "the church that was formerly barren" [Third Ode, Matins of the Universal Elevation of the Cross]. (Mary: The Untrodden Portal of God, pp. 22-25)

When we have fully appropriated the Orthodox understanding of the Theotokos, then we will be able to offer a fully convincing response to the Latin formulation of the Immaculate Conception.  
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« Reply #179 on: June 07, 2012, 11:59:04 AM »



I am older than you are Joe and I never was taught that original sin was any kind of personal sin guilt, so I expect...hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.....that you had your hearing aide turned off.


Im NOT talking about personal Guilt, but the guilt that was passed down by Adam's sin.  And the Sisters of St. Joseph were very capable in teaching the faith that I was a part of at that time.   The Diocesan priests also in H.S. affirmed this Guilt as well.  They all cant be dummies.
[/quote]

That "guilt" is a short hand for the "stain"..."spot"..."blemish"...of original sin that the holy fathers talked about.  Somewhere along the line in your learning somebody should have gotten beyond that language of guilt and explained to you what it is:  It is the consequence of original sin for the person which is the darkening of the intellect and the weakening of the will and the memory.  IF you were not taught then it would have been up to you to do what I did, and many others like me did, which was to ask: What does that mean?...and then take the energy and effort to go find out.

I am weary of Catholics who have no understanding of their Church's teachings beyond the 8th grade and who whine and complain because they are told their faith is about as ripe an full as a 13 year olds.

We all have the responsibility to go and find out....on our own...regardless of what we were taught as children, or young adults.

M.
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