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Author Topic: St Mary of Egypt and grave-digging lions!  (Read 5622 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 21, 2013, 06:16:53 AM »

I love the Life of St. Mary of Egypt and am truly inspired by her story. My question is, is it possible that when it is told that a lion helped dig her grave that that part of the story is just a myth. I am not saying the Lord couldn't have done that but it just reads like a myth. your thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2013, 07:15:21 AM »

I love the Life of St. Mary of Egypt and am truly inspired by her story. My question is, is it possible that when it is told that a lion helped dig her grave that that part of the story is just a myth. I am not saying the Lord couldn't have done that but it just reads like a myth. your thoughts?
Her entire story looks like a moralizing little novel not just that detail.
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2013, 07:22:58 AM »

your thoughts?

Is it important in any way?
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2013, 08:15:13 AM »

your thoughts?

Is it important in any way?

If you can shed some light on the subject, then, yes, your thoughts are important.
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2013, 08:17:07 AM »

Yes, that is what Orthodoxy is all about -- miracles.  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2013, 08:17:28 AM »

I love the Life of St. Mary of Egypt and am truly inspired by her story. My question is, is it possible that when it is told that a lion helped dig her grave that that part of the story is just a myth. I am not saying the Lord couldn't have done that but it just reads like a myth. your thoughts?
Her entire story looks like a moralizing little novel not just that detail.

So can we know how much of what is recorded "actually happened" or am I letting my "inner-fundamentalist" worry itself too much about it?
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2013, 08:18:41 AM »

Yes, that is what Orthodoxy is all about -- miracles.  Grin

Well, I do believe in miracles  Cheesy
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2013, 12:22:32 PM »

I love the Life of St. Mary of Egypt and am truly inspired by her story. My question is, is it possible that when it is told that a lion helped dig her grave that that part of the story is just a myth. I am not saying the Lord couldn't have done that but it just reads like a myth. your thoughts?
Her entire story looks like a moralizing little novel not just that detail.

So can we know how much of what is recorded "actually happened" or am I letting my "inner-fundamentalist" worry itself too much about it?

If Job and Jonah happened, then so did St. Mary of Egypt. If not, they are all just little moralizing novels. But we are people of great faith. And morals.     
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2013, 12:28:10 PM »

I love the Life of St. Mary of Egypt and am truly inspired by her story. My question is, is it possible that when it is told that a lion helped dig her grave that that part of the story is just a myth. I am not saying the Lord couldn't have done that but it just reads like a myth. your thoughts?
Her entire story looks like a moralizing little novel not just that detail.

Yeah, I actually agree with augustin on this one. She walks across water and gets prevented from going into a church by an invisible barrier, so why does the one detail about the lion stand out so much?
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2013, 12:32:11 PM »

f Job and Jonah happened, then so did St. Mary of Egypt.

Non sequitur.
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2013, 12:57:09 PM »

She walks across water and gets prevented from going into a church by an invisible barrier, so why does the one detail about the lion stand out so much?

All biblical stuff:

 - invisible barrier: see the Cherubim with the flaming sword (Genesis 3:24) or the angel appearing with his sword drawn to Balaam's ass (Numbers 22:22-23).

 - walking across the Jordan: Joshua 3 and 2 Kings 2:8 and 14.

 - angels and wild beasts ministering to holy people in the wilderness: the ravens of Elijah or Mark 1:13.
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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2013, 01:01:03 PM »

Yeah, I actually agree with augustin on this one. She walks across water and gets prevented from going into a church by an invisible barrier, so why does the one detail about the lion stand out so much?


I guess I can accept the walking on water easier only because Christ did it...when it comes to a lion digging a grave, I guess it just "feels" like a fable. 

I know not everything in Sacred Scripture is necessarily literally true (The Genesis creation account, for example) so I was just thinking the same could be said for St. Mary of Egypt's story.
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2013, 01:15:05 PM »

I guess I can accept the walking on water easier only because Christ did it...when it comes to a lion digging a grave, I guess it just "feels" like a fable. 

Well, in Greek literature the topos of the lion as man's best friend actually goes back to one of Aesop's fables. George Bernard Shaw wrote a satirical play about (the early) Christians based on it: http://www.fullbooks.com/Androcles-and-the-Lion.html.

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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2013, 01:32:26 PM »

She walks across water and gets prevented from going into a church by an invisible barrier, so why does the one detail about the lion stand out so much?

All biblical stuff:

 - invisible barrier: see the Cherubim with the flaming sword (Genesis 3:24) or the angel appearing with his sword drawn to Balaam's ass (Numbers 22:22-23).

 - walking across the Jordan: Joshua 3 and 2 Kings 2:8 and 14.

 - angels and wild beasts ministering to holy people in the wilderness: the ravens of Elijah or Mark 1:13.

I never claimed that it was impossible but if the story of Job is true the story of St. Mary doesn't automatically have to be true as well.
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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2013, 01:37:45 PM »

I never claimed that it was impossible but if the story of Job is true the story of St. Mary doesn't automatically have to be true as well.

Theoretically, I would agree with you - I referred to Job and Jonah because the "little moralizing novel" genre was brought up and they are part of the Canon of Scripture.

My hunch is that their historicity stands or falls together.
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« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2013, 01:40:06 PM »

"Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these"

Christianity is a strange religion demanding that we believe in some strange, improbable things. We are materialistic people encountering experiences narrated by men and women who saw the world completely differently, as suffused with spiritual power, who saw the visible realm as symbolic of spiritual truth, whereas we have the opposite tendency and want to explain everything on a fundamentally sensible basis.
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« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2013, 01:47:37 PM »

She walks across water and gets prevented from going into a church by an invisible barrier, so why does the one detail about the lion stand out so much?

All biblical stuff:

 - invisible barrier: see the Cherubim with the flaming sword (Genesis 3:24) or the angel appearing with his sword drawn to Balaam's ass (Numbers 22:22-23).

 - walking across the Jordan: Joshua 3 and 2 Kings 2:8 and 14.

 - angels and wild beasts ministering to holy people in the wilderness: the ravens of Elijah or Mark 1:13.

That just supports my point, Romaios.
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« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2013, 02:01:02 PM »

We are materialistic people encountering experiences narrated by men and women who saw the world completely differently, as suffused with spiritual power, who saw the visible realm as symbolic of spiritual truth, whereas we have the opposite tendency and want to explain everything on a fundamentally sensible basis.

Faith seems to have been in short supply even back then. Our Lord repeatedly rebuked his disciples for being "of little faith". Even after his resurrection:

"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

All the rest of us are left with is this:

"I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:24)
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« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2013, 03:09:39 PM »

You have a problem with grave digging lions? Oh boy! Wait till you see the dragons mentioned in St. George's story and the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2013, 03:25:40 PM »

I love the Life of St. Mary of Egypt and am truly inspired by her story. My question is, is it possible that when it is told that a lion helped dig her grave that that part of the story is just a myth. I am not saying the Lord couldn't have done that but it just reads like a myth. your thoughts?

No its not a myth. When Saint Zosima was tasked with digging her grave, God sent a lion to dig assist with digging the grave. Lions are in many Orthodox stories.

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« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2013, 03:35:42 PM »

You have a problem with grave digging lions? Oh boy! Wait till you see the dragons mentioned in St. George's story and the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

We all have our problems and burdens.
Some in faith, some in daily life and some with many elements of the orthodox teaching.

My problem? Lent is going way too fast now (14 days left). I am not complaining, just getting slower (older).
But I do belive in this and St Mary Of Egypt sure matters in my daily prayer life. Yes, she does.
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« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2013, 04:04:06 PM »

Lions are in many Orthodox stories.

My favorite is the one where St. Jerome removes a thorn from the paw of a lion after which they become friends.
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« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2013, 04:15:25 PM »

There are also the lions and tigers who refuse to harm the martyrs in the amphitheatre, even turning against their keepers when goaded. It's quite a common motif.
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« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2013, 04:19:10 PM »

Lions are in many Orthodox stories.

My favorite is the one where St. Jerome removes a thorn from the paw of a lion after which they become friends.

That's Androcles redivivus.  

My all-time favourite is St. Gerasimos of the Jordan.


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« Reply #24 on: April 22, 2013, 07:28:13 AM »

My cat brings me some dead lizards, mice or birds from time to time if that counts.
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« Reply #25 on: April 22, 2013, 11:04:29 AM »

I hope I'm not a heretic, but I read many of the stories of the saints and thoughts pop into my mind questioning its historicity.  I read some of the stories in Scripture and I question the historicity.  I don't know if something has to be historically correct in order for it to be spritually beneficial.  I don't question that miracles occur, but I also know peoples predeliction to see miracles where they don't, and I'm guessing that there have been just as many of those recorded as actual miracles.
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« Reply #26 on: April 22, 2013, 11:36:42 AM »

I hope I'm not a heretic, but I read many of the stories of the saints and thoughts pop into my mind questioning its historicity.  I read some of the stories in Scripture and I question the historicity.  I don't know if something has to be historically correct in order for it to be spritually beneficial.  I don't question that miracles occur, but I also know peoples predeliction to see miracles where they don't, and I'm guessing that there have been just as many of those recorded as actual miracles.

The Vatican has demoted St. Barbara because the accounts of her life seem to lack historicity. Research has supported that St. Catherine of Alexandria is actually the philosopher Hypatia, given a Christian veneer. There's a lot of the fantastical in the accounts of saints' lives, but, in the end, we do get to know them from their fruit.
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« Reply #27 on: April 22, 2013, 12:00:43 PM »

Research has supported that St. Catherine of Alexandria is actually the philosopher Hypatia, given a Christian veneer.

Mm, no it really hasn't. That is nothing but speculation.
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« Reply #28 on: April 22, 2013, 12:02:14 PM »

Research has supported that St. Catherine of Alexandria is actually the philosopher Hypatia, given a Christian veneer.

Mm, no it really hasn't. That is nothing but speculation.

In which way does 'support' suggest more than speculation?
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« Reply #29 on: April 22, 2013, 12:02:20 PM »

Research has supported that St. Catherine of Alexandria is actually the philosopher Hypatia, given a Christian veneer.

No, no. Not at all.
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« Reply #30 on: April 22, 2013, 12:15:59 PM »

Research has supported that St. Catherine of Alexandria is actually the philosopher Hypatia, given a Christian veneer.

Mm, no it really hasn't. That is nothing but speculation.

In which way does 'support' suggest more than speculation?

It suggests there is some actual compelling evidence. The "research" done to reach this conclusion is on par with the "research" to prove that the Virgin Mary is Athena in disguise or that the eucharist is supposed to be psychedelic shrooms.
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« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2013, 12:25:25 PM »

Research has supported that St. Catherine of Alexandria is actually the philosopher Hypatia, given a Christian veneer.

Mm, no it really hasn't. That is nothing but speculation.

In which way does 'support' suggest more than speculation?

It suggests there is some actual compelling evidence. The "research" done to reach this conclusion is on par with the "research" to prove that the Virgin Mary is Athena in disguise or that the eucharist is supposed to be psychedelic shrooms.

Research is of various levels, and all sorts of views will be supported until finally proven or disproven.

(For the curious, some pointers are here and here.)
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« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2013, 12:35:21 PM »

Research is of various levels, and all sorts of views will be supported until finally proven or disproven.

When you say, without qualification, "research supports x" you are implying that there is serious evidence in favor of x, not merely some local traditions or opinions offered from disparate sources.

Quote
(For the curious, some pointers are here

So a very, very local tradition in a town in present-day Turkey identifies her with Hypatia.

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and here.)

"The story of Hypatia of Alexandria is very well told in the movie Agora. " This is a good indicator of the level of... scholarship evident in the blog. The movie, while enjoyable to an extent, shows a basic misunderstanding of Hypatia.
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« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2013, 12:45:34 PM »

Research is of various levels, and all sorts of views will be supported until finally proven or disproven.

When you say, without qualification, "research supports x" you are implying that there is serious evidence in favor of x, not merely some local traditions or opinions offered from disparate sources.

What qualification would you have preferred? 'Some research'? Since it is not a proven fact, it can't be 'all research', so it's by definition 'some'. Don't really care to nitpick how much is 'a little' or 'a lot' - I'm not a grocer.

(For the curious, some pointers are here

So a very, very local tradition in a town in present-day Turkey identifies her with Hypatia.

That very, very local tradition apparently appears in at least three scholarly papers (cited on the blog, there may be more), published way before the post-Dan Brown sensationalism took over. I don't claim they're right - only that it's an interesting point. No more and no less provable than grave-digging lions. Smiley
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« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2013, 12:52:23 PM »

Ancient books weren't usually written with our photographic expectations in mind. By that I mean that since the advent of the scientific age, we expect documents from the time to be almost as written descriptions of what happened exactly as a neutral camera-man were filming it all.

Most writers though, specially religious ones, would work more with symbolism and poetry than we are used to expect. And part of literacy was related to be able to understand this symbolic meanings and see the facts they referred to.

When the facts being described were miraculous themselves, and were described with intense symbolic poetry, the text becomes almost completely opaque to the average modern reader.

Using the dragon example from the other thread, "fighting dragons" could mean fighting an actual snake, fighting a political power that was seen so evil as to be an icon of the devil or the ascetic fight with demons themselves. Saint George icon simply puts the saint in the apocalyptic vision where the dragon persecutes the woman (seen at the background of the icon), to show both his spiritual struggle, his defense of the Church against the spiritual evil manifest in the political powers of the age, and to teach us that whenever we fight evil we are somehow taking part in the war of the Apocalypse.
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« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2013, 02:04:45 PM »

Some orthodox people can't believe even in the Holy Fire, not to mention lions digging a grave. They say the Patriarch brings in a lighter  Cheesy.

The life itself is a miracle. The creation is so complex and inconceivable, that dragons and lions do not seem to be a miracle at all if you give it a thought.

Also, if you have some experience of prayer, you should have noticed, that God knows your every thought, your every feeling and the slightest pain. And He knows this about all 7 billion people simultaneously (while an average person can hardly memorize a 6 digit telephone number). God is great, isn't He?

Why would you then question such trifles as lions digging a grave?
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« Reply #36 on: April 22, 2013, 02:20:53 PM »


^ +1
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« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2013, 02:56:18 PM »

I can only speak for myself, but I don't question that those things can't happen, I just often wonder if some of the miracles that have been transmitted down through the years are not perhaps the workings of overactive imaginations or misunderstanding.  Personally, I have more confidence in God hearing my prayers than I do in the story of some dragon or lion or invisible force fields in church doorways.  Not to say it couldn't happen, but rather I don't know if it did.  Of course, the story can still certainly be used for spiritual edification and an example of holiness.  I just prefer not to be dogmatic about it's historical veracity.
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« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2013, 03:07:06 PM »

I gotta admit - I love the grave-digging lion! And I don't really have a problem with any of the saints' miracles or stories. It's always seemed to me that the biggest leap was belief in Almighty God, the creator, all-powerful, omniscient and all the rest, who decided to become a person just like us because He loved us so much.

Once you accept that, why quibble about the Virgin Birth, talking animals and grave-digging lions and all the rest? That's just icing on the cake.
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« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2013, 03:36:05 PM »

The ultimate resource on all the topoi of Byzantine hagiography:

Thomas Pratsch - Der hagiographische Topos (2005)

Here's a list of contents: http://www.degruyter.com/viewbooktoc/product/20410

Quote
This is the first systematic study of literary formulae (topoi) in Greek medieval lives of the saints. Pratsch compiles a comprehensive collection of material, including a systematic catalogue of the topoi. In his evaluation of them he provides new insights into the genesis, transmission and historical development of the genre of Greek saints’ vitae. He traces the gradual development of the vitae from various other literary forms and, working from a new perspective, lends support to the thesis that a canon of Greek lives of the saints became established from the end of the 10th century and into the 11th century. This study is a valuable reference work on Byzantine hagiographic literature.
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« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2013, 03:53:56 PM »

Beautiful sermon on the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt by Met. Anthony of Surozh (in English with Greek subtitles - 10 minutes).
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« Reply #41 on: April 22, 2013, 05:22:52 PM »

The ultimate resource on all the topoi of Byzantine hagiography:

Thomas Pratsch - Der hagiographische Topos (2005)

Here's a list of contents: http://www.degruyter.com/viewbooktoc/product/20410

Quote
This is the first systematic study of literary formulae (topoi) in Greek medieval lives of the saints. Pratsch compiles a comprehensive collection of material, including a systematic catalogue of the topoi. In his evaluation of them he provides new insights into the genesis, transmission and historical development of the genre of Greek saints’ vitae. He traces the gradual development of the vitae from various other literary forms and, working from a new perspective, lends support to the thesis that a canon of Greek lives of the saints became established from the end of the 10th century and into the 11th century. This study is a valuable reference work on Byzantine hagiographic literature.


Have you read everything?

And have you paid the requisite $56.7 billion to do so?
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« Reply #42 on: April 22, 2013, 05:26:07 PM »

I really don't know about the Holy Light. Entering a closed room and coming out with lit candles is not difficult at all to produce as a magic trick. In fact, I'm sure most close-up magic performers could lit a candle in front of your eyes with no need of getting anywhere away from people's eyes.

The only fact that is in favor of the Holy Light, in my opinion is that if it's a trick, it's so easy the enemies of Christianity and of Orthodox in particular would have already exposed it.

Against it, we have the fact that there is a hysterical mob in and around the church and patriarchs and local authorities may rightfully feel it's not safe to just come out and say "look, this is how it's really done". some of the guys sporting weapons would feel they are lying and mass fight would start.

The miracle of the cloud that descends on the Orthodox monastery seems much more likely to me because I *think* creating a cloud or fog in open spaces that stays steady is more difficult to produce.

Overall, I am very suspicious of spectactular miracles to which the witness is the masses. But that's just me.
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« Reply #43 on: April 22, 2013, 05:58:50 PM »

There's always Saint Seraphim and the bears. But then again, Russian bears are Orthodox so they aren't violent.
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« Reply #44 on: April 22, 2013, 06:02:17 PM »

Have you read everything?

No, I just read up on the lions.  

And have you paid the requisite $56.7 billion to do so?

A glick hot mich getrofen!

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« Reply #45 on: April 22, 2013, 07:58:29 PM »

Some orthodox people can't believe even in the Holy Fire, not to mention lions digging a grave. They say the Patriarch brings in a lighter  Cheesy.

The life itself is a miracle. The creation is so complex and inconceivable, that dragons and lions do not seem to be a miracle at all if you give it a thought.

Also, if you have some experience of prayer, you should have noticed, that God knows your every thought, your every feeling and the slightest pain. And He knows this about all 7 billion people simultaneously (while an average person can hardly memorize a 6 digit telephone number). God is great, isn't He?

Why would you then question such trifles as lions digging a grave?

Why people not even can believe in The Holy Fire, it is hard to tell. But I can tell this:
I pray for them. Daily.

God is great. + Glory to God in all things! +
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« Reply #46 on: April 22, 2013, 08:03:43 PM »

Why people not even can believe in The Holy Fire, it is hard to tell.

Because it is not a matter of Christian belief. Neither are lions digging graves.

While I appreciate the maximalist approach the Orthodox tend to project, there is a place for a minimalist critique as well, perhaps not to the degree that YIM takes it (by perhaps I mean obviously not).

Balance seems to be important. And maximalism taken too far, if nothing else takes the emphasis away from the more important aspects of Christian thought and act.
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« Reply #47 on: April 22, 2013, 08:09:37 PM »

Balance sure. Will to trust in God yes.
Maximalism can distort one spiritually and steal some of the focus too. I am painfully aware of that.
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« Reply #48 on: April 23, 2013, 08:09:26 AM »

Well, atheists also do not believe in the Holy Fire, nor do they believe in the miracle of the Penitent Thief's cross, which, since it was installed by Saint Helena at the island of Cyprus, was hovering in the air suspended by the Holy Spirit for more than 1000 years. I bet atheists do not believe in lions digging a grave as well (lions digging a grave, what a joke Cheesy).

If you have no faith, you can't believe, it's easy as that. It doesn't mean that the person, who doesn't believe is a bad person (one of them actually was Saint Thomas, one of the Twelve), but it surely does mean something, which I can't formulate due to lack of spiritual vision and experience.

Any way the phenomen (lack of faith among christians) exists, and I believe we should discuss it from time to time Wink to help each other in one's faith issues.    
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« Reply #49 on: April 23, 2013, 09:26:44 PM »

The Vatican has demoted St. Barbara because the accounts of her life seem to lack historicity.
And how does one demote a saint?  In the Roman Catholic Church since 1970 her day may be celebrated as an optional memorial, before that it had the rank of simple feast, functionaly equivalent.  In the Melkite Catholic Church her day is polyeleos rank and in the Slavic Greek Catholic Churches her day is simple rank as she always had been.  Some saints in the General Roman Calendar, especially those with fantastic legends but little history had the rank of their feast reduced but none were removed from the martyrology and anyone in the martyrology may be commemorated.
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« Reply #50 on: April 23, 2013, 10:27:53 PM »

Why people not even can believe in The Holy Fire, it is hard to tell.

Because it is not a matter of Christian belief. Neither are lions digging graves.

While I appreciate the maximalist approach the Orthodox tend to project, there is a place for a minimalist critique as well, perhaps not to the degree that YIM takes it (by perhaps I mean obviously not).

Balance seems to be important. And maximalism taken too far, if nothing else takes the emphasis away from the more important aspects of Christian thought and act.

Agreed, but balance can be illusive....or deceptive.
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« Reply #51 on: April 24, 2013, 02:26:22 PM »

The Vatican has demoted St. Barbara because the accounts of her life seem to lack historicity.
And how does one demote a saint?  In the Roman Catholic Church since 1970 her day may be celebrated as an optional memorial, before that it had the rank of simple feast, functionaly equivalent.  In the Melkite Catholic Church her day is polyeleos rank and in the Slavic Greek Catholic Churches her day is simple rank as she always had been.  Some saints in the General Roman Calendar, especially those with fantastic legends but little history had the rank of their feast reduced but none were removed from the martyrology and anyone in the martyrology may be commemorated.

St Barbara's feast day has been removed from the Roman calendar. Feel free to verify.
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« Reply #52 on: April 24, 2013, 02:48:35 PM »

Why people not even can believe in The Holy Fire, it is hard to tell.

Because it is not a matter of Christian belief. Neither are lions digging graves.

While I appreciate the maximalist approach the Orthodox tend to project, there is a place for a minimalist critique as well, perhaps not to the degree that YIM takes it (by perhaps I mean obviously not).

Balance seems to be important. And maximalism taken too far, if nothing else takes the emphasis away from the more important aspects of Christian thought and act.

Agreed, but balance can be illusive....or deceptive.


Well. St Mary of Egypt has a special place in my daily prayerlife and I have a deep respect for the lives and the works of the saints.
It is not me who makes the critical questions..I just try in a newbie way to explain why I believe.

Forgive me, I am just a fool - but one that truly believes.
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« Reply #53 on: April 24, 2013, 03:22:25 PM »

As a general rule, the Church, in her liturgical commemorations of saints does not focus upon the details of hagiography, but rather upon, for lack of a better word, the essence of the saint's life or deeds. Fr. Hopko, on the OCA's excellent online exposition on Orthodox doctrine explains:

"There are volumes on lives of the saints in the Orthodox tradition. ..... Because these volumes were written down in times quite different from our own, it is necessary to read them carefully to distinguish the essential points from the artificial and sometimes even fanciful embellishments which are often contained in them. ... It also was the custom to add many elements, particularly supernatural and miraculous events of the most extraordinary sort, to confirm the true holiness of the saint, to gain strength for his spiritual goodness and truth, and to foster imitation of his virtues in the lives of the hearers and readers. In many cases the miraculous is added to stress the ethical righteousness and innocence of the saint in the face of his detractors.

Generally speaking, it does not take much effort to distinguish the sound kernel of truth in the lives of the saints from the additions made in the spirit of piety and enthusiasm of the later periods; and the effort should be made to see the essential truth which the lives contain. Also, the fact that elements of a miraculous nature were added to the lives of saints during medieval times for the purposes of edification, entertainment, and even amusement should not lead to the conclusion that all things miraculous in the lives of the saints are invented for literary or moralizing purposes. ... Again, a careful reading of the lives of the saints will almost always reveal what is authenti
c and true in the realm of the miraculous. " http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/doctrine/sources-of-christian-doctrine/the-saints

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« Reply #54 on: April 24, 2013, 09:11:50 PM »

St Barbara's feast day has been removed from the Roman calendar. Feel free to verify.
 

The site is wrong.  Her day is no longer included in the General Calendar of the Roman Rite ordinary form as a mandatory commemoration.  She is still in the Roman Martyrology and her commemoration may be made.  She was not demoted or de-canonized, or any other such thing.
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« Reply #55 on: April 24, 2013, 11:08:02 PM »

The Bible has talking snakes and asses, flying flaming chariots, and shadows with healing properties. How this seems like any more of a stretch into the non-historical or legendary than your everyday scriptural affairs is beyond me.
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« Reply #56 on: April 25, 2013, 01:28:50 AM »

St Barbara's feast day has been removed from the Roman calendar. Feel free to verify.
 

The site is wrong.  Her day is no longer included in the General Calendar of the Roman Rite ordinary form as a mandatory commemoration.  She is still in the Roman Martyrology and her commemoration may be made.  She was not demoted or de-canonized, or any other such thing.

And with this post the OT about the veneration of her in the RCC shall end.
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« Reply #57 on: April 25, 2013, 09:22:04 AM »

The Bible has talking snakes and asses, flying flaming chariots, and shadows with healing properties. How this seems like any more of a stretch into the non-historical or legendary than your everyday scriptural affairs is beyond me.

That's the way it's always seemed to me as well. What's any more unlikely than a person you knew was dead frying fish for you a few days later?
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« Reply #58 on: April 25, 2013, 09:26:53 AM »

In many ways it reminds of when my family tries to pick me apart when it comes to faith and say:

How can you believe in that?!
What does God give you?!
How dare you to set him before us? How could you!?

But as I have answered them over and over again, as humbly as you can in that situation: I believe. I do care about you. I do love you.
God comes always first. For me it boils down to these words. If it makes me this forums biggest fool, fine. Then I am. For Christ I can live with that.

Can you?
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« Reply #59 on: April 25, 2013, 09:35:55 AM »

The Bible has talking snakes and asses, flying flaming chariots, and shadows with healing properties. How this seems like any more of a stretch into the non-historical or legendary than your everyday scriptural affairs is beyond me.

That's the way it's always seemed to me as well. What's any more unlikely than a person you knew was dead frying fish for you a few days later?

I don't really look at it as likely vs unlikely, because as far as miracles are concerned, that is irrelevent.  I see it more as how trustworthy is the source?  Apostles writing about Christ = very trustworthy.  Pious peasants in medieval Russia telling a story about a Russian saint = not so trustworthy.  As it pertains to St. Mary of Egypt, the primary source info we have on her was written 200-300 years after her death, which is plenty of time for pious imaginations to infiltrate the story.  I consider the story to be largely truthful, but I suspect there are aspects of the story which may have been embellished. Lions digging graves may or may not be one of those embellishments, but if it is or is not, it doesn't really affect the spiritual value of the story.
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« Reply #60 on: April 25, 2013, 10:44:24 PM »

I love the Life of St. Mary of Egypt and am truly inspired by her story. My question is, is it possible that when it is told that a lion helped dig her grave that that part of the story is just a myth. I am not saying the Lord couldn't have done that but it just reads like a myth. your thoughts?

There are a lot stranger things we accept as part of our faith--a virgin birth, bodily resurrection, etc. And no Orthodox Christian things they're myths. Why would it be so odd that animals would perform a service for a saint? After all, before the fall, animals served man.
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« Reply #61 on: April 25, 2013, 10:48:25 PM »

My cat brings me some dead lizards, mice or birds from time to time if that counts.

And during Lent, your cat brings you fish and shrimp and tofu.

"Where did you get the tofu, kitty?"

"Meow."
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« Reply #62 on: April 25, 2013, 10:55:34 PM »

The Vatican has demoted St. Barbara because the accounts of her life seem to lack historicity.
And how does one demote a saint?  In the Roman Catholic Church since 1970 her day may be celebrated as an optional memorial, before that it had the rank of simple feast, functionaly equivalent.  In the Melkite Catholic Church her day is polyeleos rank and in the Slavic Greek Catholic Churches her day is simple rank as she always had been.  Some saints in the General Roman Calendar, especially those with fantastic legends but little history had the rank of their feast reduced but none were removed from the martyrology and anyone in the martyrology may be commemorated.

In the eyes of the Eastern rites, Roman commemorations of saints are all demotions, lol.
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« Reply #63 on: April 25, 2013, 10:58:02 PM »

The Bible has talking snakes and asses, flying flaming chariots, and shadows with healing properties. How this seems like any more of a stretch into the non-historical or legendary than your everyday scriptural affairs is beyond me.

That's the way it's always seemed to me as well. What's any more unlikely than a person you knew was dead frying fish for you a few days later?

I think He grilled them in the Gospel, although if He had been in the South, doubtless, He'd have fried them. Smiley
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« Reply #64 on: April 28, 2013, 11:01:57 PM »

I don't really look at it as likely vs unlikely, because as far as miracles are concerned, that is irrelevent.  I see it more as how trustworthy is the source?  Apostles writing about Christ = very trustworthy.  Pious peasants in medieval Russia telling a story about a Russian saint = not so trustworthy.  As it pertains to St. Mary of Egypt, the primary source info we have on her was written 200-300 years after her death, which is plenty of time for pious imaginations to infiltrate the story.  I consider the story to be largely truthful, but I suspect there are aspects of the story which may have been embellished. Lions digging graves may or may not be one of those embellishments, but if it is or is not, it doesn't really affect the spiritual value of the story.

Kind of like the various redactions and revisions throughout the history of the Holy Scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, which I was primarily referencing? Pretty sure that the "eyewitnesses" of even New Testament events were illiterate peasants or fishermen in many instances. You can play head games all you want but a preference for the scriptural sources as more reliable is arbitrary at best and disingenuous at worst. Even the scholarly dating for hagiography/canonized lives and canonized scripture is based on best guesses and available/known manuscripts.

Don't turn off your brain; turn it up.
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« Reply #65 on: April 29, 2013, 07:25:30 AM »


Our brother, Gebre Menfes Kidus, articulated it eloquently, “Sometimes I feel that it is impossible for a human being to have lived such a devout and miraculous life, but then I realize this is simply due to my spiritual ignorance and lack of faith. For nothing is impossible with God. (St. Luke 1:37)

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=21160.0

I purposely bring up secular medias to demonstrate that, even the quite often skeptic materialists and Protestants sometimes, somehow, are humble enough to question their ignorance. Though, the demons of prejudice won't abandon them easily.

 (Ac.8:26-39)

“The Ethiopian Eunuch as a Foreshadowing of the Coming Gentile Mission”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/reverend-william-e-flippin-jr/the-ethiopian-eunuch-as-a_b_1792387.html

Lions Save African Girl From Abductors

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,160265,00.html

The so-called, “wildlife expert” seems to know everything:

"A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which in turn could explain why they didn't eat her,"

Interesting comments, 8 years later:


http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/3004901/posts

http://grist.org/list/kidnapped-beaten-ethiopian-girl-rescued-by-caring-protective-lions/

And, finally, I copied this beautiful poem about “St. Abune Aregawi”, to anger the wild skeptics

Long, long ago, or so I’ve heard,
Nine holy men from Syria came
Intent to bring God’s Holy Word
And spread the same in Heaven’s name
Throughout the godless lands of Tigray;
They lived by vows, they did not marry,
But every day they knelt to pray
Especially Abune Aregawi.

He led them by his good example,
A man of God in every way
With vices none and virtues ample.
Some years went by but then one day
St. Abune Aregawi thought
He’d go and found a monastery:
It had to be a quiet spot,
Uncrowded and temptation-free.

He saw a place on top of a crag
Ideal for prayer and meditation.
Unluckily there was a snag —
No way up save levitation!
He knelt upon his knees to pray
(Until they both began to ache)
That God would help him find a way,
So God produced a giant snake

To do the job and no mistake
For it was half a kilometre
In length at least, for pity’s sake!
Believe you me, or ask St. Peter.
Anyways this snake let down its tail
And slid it round old Abune’s waist
(At this the saint turned rather pale
To find himself so tight embraced) .

But before you could say “Jack Robinson”
St. Abune found himself up high
On top of the cliff and the job was done
With the help of God it was easy as pie!
St. Abune called this holy place
Debra Damo and nowadays
All who tread this holy space
Must climb a rope and not use stairs.

So let us praise this holy man
Who founded Debra Damo
In the year A.D.501
Some fifteen hundred years ago.
His nigdet is for rich and poor
Upon the 14th of October
So all go easy on the suwa
And for St.Abune’s sake, stay sober.


Note: St. Abune Aregawi was an early Ethiopian Christian saint who founded the ancient monastery of Debra Damo. Legend has it that he chose the site at the top of an inaccessible cliff but was only able to gain access to it when, in answer to his prayers, at God's behest a giant snake lowered itself to pick him up and place him on top of the cliff. To this day, access to this ancient monastery (restricted to men and male animals) involves climbing up a rope suspended from the top of the cliff. 'Nigdet' is a saint's feastday; 'suwa' is a kind of home-made beer served at such feasts.
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« Reply #66 on: April 29, 2013, 09:06:05 AM »

I don't really look at it as likely vs unlikely, because as far as miracles are concerned, that is irrelevent.  I see it more as how trustworthy is the source?  Apostles writing about Christ = very trustworthy.  Pious peasants in medieval Russia telling a story about a Russian saint = not so trustworthy.  As it pertains to St. Mary of Egypt, the primary source info we have on her was written 200-300 years after her death, which is plenty of time for pious imaginations to infiltrate the story.  I consider the story to be largely truthful, but I suspect there are aspects of the story which may have been embellished. Lions digging graves may or may not be one of those embellishments, but if it is or is not, it doesn't really affect the spiritual value of the story.

Kind of like the various redactions and revisions throughout the history of the Holy Scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, which I was primarily referencing? Pretty sure that the "eyewitnesses" of even New Testament events were illiterate peasants or fishermen in many instances. You can play head games all you want but a preference for the scriptural sources as more reliable is arbitrary at best and disingenuous at worst. Even the scholarly dating for hagiography/canonized lives and canonized scripture is based on best guesses and available/known manuscripts.

Don't turn off your brain; turn it up.

I was referencing the dead frying fish comment by Katherine. In regards to your comment, I will readily admit that I am not convinced that all that is told in the OT is 100% historical.  I think there is history mixed with myth.  1000's of years will do that to any writing.  I accept it as infallible for my spiritual health, not a history or science book.
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« Reply #67 on: April 30, 2013, 11:49:10 PM »

I was referencing the dead frying fish comment by Katherine. In regards to your comment, I will readily admit that I am not convinced that all that is told in the OT is 100% historical.  I think there is history mixed with myth.  1000's of years will do that to any writing.  I accept it as infallible for my spiritual health, not a history or science book.

Is the resurrection motif necessarily historical and scientific to be a spiritually "healthy" moral tale? If the Old Adam is exclusively mythological and archetypical to the exclusion of simultaneous actual historicity, then why not the New Adam as well?
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« Reply #68 on: April 30, 2013, 11:53:49 PM »

I was referencing the dead frying fish comment by Katherine. In regards to your comment, I will readily admit that I am not convinced that all that is told in the OT is 100% historical.  I think there is history mixed with myth.  1000's of years will do that to any writing.  I accept it as infallible for my spiritual health, not a history or science book.

Is the resurrection motif necessarily historical and scientific to be a spiritually "healthy" moral tale? If the Old Adam is exclusively mythological and archetypical to the exclusion of simultaneous actual historicity, then why not the New Adam as well?

We are not Swedenborgians.
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« Reply #69 on: May 01, 2013, 12:03:07 AM »

I was referencing the dead frying fish comment by Katherine. In regards to your comment, I will readily admit that I am not convinced that all that is told in the OT is 100% historical.  I think there is history mixed with myth.  1000's of years will do that to any writing.  I accept it as infallible for my spiritual health, not a history or science book.

Is the resurrection motif necessarily historical and scientific to be a spiritually "healthy" moral tale? If the Old Adam is exclusively mythological and archetypical to the exclusion of simultaneous actual historicity, then why not the New Adam as well?

We are not Swedenborgians.

When does Star Trek villain get mashed up with this group on some ridiculous cartoon? Or when did it? Since the internet has done everything already.
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« Reply #70 on: May 01, 2013, 12:12:41 AM »

I was referencing the dead frying fish comment by Katherine. In regards to your comment, I will readily admit that I am not convinced that all that is told in the OT is 100% historical.  I think there is history mixed with myth.  1000's of years will do that to any writing.  I accept it as infallible for my spiritual health, not a history or science book.

Is the resurrection motif necessarily historical and scientific to be a spiritually "healthy" moral tale? If the Old Adam is exclusively mythological and archetypical to the exclusion of simultaneous actual historicity, then why not the New Adam as well?

We are not Swedenborgians.

I know. I'm taking problematic thoughts to their potential end, and you're getting in the way.
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« Reply #71 on: May 01, 2013, 08:36:02 AM »

I was referencing the dead frying fish comment by Katherine. In regards to your comment, I will readily admit that I am not convinced that all that is told in the OT is 100% historical.  I think there is history mixed with myth.  1000's of years will do that to any writing.  I accept it as infallible for my spiritual health, not a history or science book.

Is the resurrection motif necessarily historical and scientific to be a spiritually "healthy" moral tale? If the Old Adam is exclusively mythological and archetypical to the exclusion of simultaneous actual historicity, then why not the New Adam as well?

I don't think I ever stated that I think it is exclusively mythological to the exclusion of historicity.  I said it is history mixed with myth.  The percentages of which is which does not really concern me.  I obviously don't believe Christ's resurrection to be myth or I wouldn't be Orthodox.  Are there mythological stories about Christ's life?  Yes, I believe there are. I would look at the Acts of Pilate or the Infancy Gospel of Thomas as examples of those. There may be history in them, but it is mixed with a good amount of myth.  In reading the OT, it is not difficult to find stories that have been stretched a bit.  Even if Adam is wholely myth, (which I do not believe is the case), it does not automatically lead to Christ being myth.
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« Reply #72 on: May 01, 2013, 10:48:10 AM »

I don't really look at it as likely vs unlikely, because as far as miracles are concerned, that is irrelevent.  I see it more as how trustworthy is the source?  Apostles writing about Christ = very trustworthy.  Pious peasants in medieval Russia telling a story about a Russian saint = not so trustworthy.  As it pertains to St. Mary of Egypt, the primary source info we have on her was written 200-300 years after her death, which is plenty of time for pious imaginations to infiltrate the story.  I consider the story to be largely truthful, but I suspect there are aspects of the story which may have been embellished. Lions digging graves may or may not be one of those embellishments, but if it is or is not, it doesn't really affect the spiritual value of the story.

Kind of like the various redactions and revisions throughout the history of the Holy Scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, which I was primarily referencing? Pretty sure that the "eyewitnesses" of even New Testament events were illiterate peasants or fishermen in many instances. You can play head games all you want but a preference for the scriptural sources as more reliable is arbitrary at best and disingenuous at worst. Even the scholarly dating for hagiography/canonized lives and canonized scripture is based on best guesses and available/known manuscripts.

Don't turn off your brain; turn it up.

Your argument for maximalism can lead to the same end as the alleged minimalism you are suggesting is being argued here. No is making the connections you are.

This is where turning your brain up does include source criticism, genre criticism, etc.

The good thing I think to see here is that I don't think anyone is walking away missing what matters about the story here. Belief in the Resurrection (or the struggle to do so) is required for standing in the Church. Grave digging lions ain't. And the Resurrection goes directly to the point of the Gospel. Directly. With some creative and possibly interesting symbolic exegesis grave digging lions might shed some light on something relevant to salvation, but I think most here could agree it is not necessary, not even to understand the import of the story.

If you take the hagiography of my favorite Saint, I am not sure what the necessary upshot is, except maybe elements of non-canonical narratives of the Nativity found their way back into the fold via oral legend, I dunno:

Quote
Rumwold was a medieval infant saint in England, said to have lived for three days in 662.[2] He is said to have been miraculously full of Christian piety despite his young age, and able to speak from the moment of his birth, professing his faith, requesting baptism, and delivering a sermon prior to his early death.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumwold_of_Buckingham
« Last Edit: May 01, 2013, 10:49:12 AM by orthonorm » Logged

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« Reply #73 on: May 01, 2013, 11:36:47 PM »

I was referencing the dead frying fish comment by Katherine. In regards to your comment, I will readily admit that I am not convinced that all that is told in the OT is 100% historical.  I think there is history mixed with myth.  1000's of years will do that to any writing.  I accept it as infallible for my spiritual health, not a history or science book.

Is the resurrection motif necessarily historical and scientific to be a spiritually "healthy" moral tale? If the Old Adam is exclusively mythological and archetypical to the exclusion of simultaneous actual historicity, then why not the New Adam as well?

We are not Swedenborgians.

When does Star Trek villain get mashed up with this group on some ridiculous cartoon? Or when did it? Since the internet has done everything already.

Thank you for making me think of the Swedish Chef as part of the Borg. Resistance is futile, BORK BORK BORK.
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« Reply #74 on: May 01, 2013, 11:38:19 PM »

I don't really look at it as likely vs unlikely, because as far as miracles are concerned, that is irrelevent.  I see it more as how trustworthy is the source?  Apostles writing about Christ = very trustworthy.  Pious peasants in medieval Russia telling a story about a Russian saint = not so trustworthy.  As it pertains to St. Mary of Egypt, the primary source info we have on her was written 200-300 years after her death, which is plenty of time for pious imaginations to infiltrate the story.  I consider the story to be largely truthful, but I suspect there are aspects of the story which may have been embellished. Lions digging graves may or may not be one of those embellishments, but if it is or is not, it doesn't really affect the spiritual value of the story.

Kind of like the various redactions and revisions throughout the history of the Holy Scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, which I was primarily referencing? Pretty sure that the "eyewitnesses" of even New Testament events were illiterate peasants or fishermen in many instances. You can play head games all you want but a preference for the scriptural sources as more reliable is arbitrary at best and disingenuous at worst. Even the scholarly dating for hagiography/canonized lives and canonized scripture is based on best guesses and available/known manuscripts.

Don't turn off your brain; turn it up.

Your argument for maximalism can lead to the same end as the alleged minimalism you are suggesting is being argued here. No is making the connections you are.

This is where turning your brain up does include source criticism, genre criticism, etc.

The good thing I think to see here is that I don't think anyone is walking away missing what matters about the story here. Belief in the Resurrection (or the struggle to do so) is required for standing in the Church. Grave digging lions ain't. And the Resurrection goes directly to the point of the Gospel. Directly. With some creative and possibly interesting symbolic exegesis grave digging lions might shed some light on something relevant to salvation, but I think most here could agree it is not necessary, not even to understand the import of the story.

If you take the hagiography of my favorite Saint, I am not sure what the necessary upshot is, except maybe elements of non-canonical narratives of the Nativity found their way back into the fold via oral legend, I dunno:

Quote
Rumwold was a medieval infant saint in England, said to have lived for three days in 662.[2] He is said to have been miraculously full of Christian piety despite his young age, and able to speak from the moment of his birth, professing his faith, requesting baptism, and delivering a sermon prior to his early death.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumwold_of_Buckingham

I love St. Rumwold of Buckingham!
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« Reply #75 on: May 06, 2013, 10:23:48 PM »

Guess these lions must not of received the memo that they don't help someone in need  Grin  Poor girl, thankfully the lions were there.  Soooo,       why so hard to believe that one helped St Mary dig a grave? http://madmikesamerica.com/2013/04/lions-save-ethiopian-girl-from-being-beaten-and-raped/
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 10:24:17 PM by mersch » Logged
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« Reply #76 on: May 06, 2013, 10:32:48 PM »

Guess these lions must not of received the memo that they don't help someone in need  Grin  Poor girl, thankfully the lions were there.  Soooo,       why so hard to believe that one helped St Mary dig a grave? http://madmikesamerica.com/2013/04/lions-save-ethiopian-girl-from-being-beaten-and-raped/

Perhaps because they don't want to be laughed at. As if people don't already laugh at them for believing in what they, as Orthodox Christians, should believe in (but perhaps do not really--who can tell?).
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 10:39:10 PM by Shanghaiski » Logged

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If you spend long enough on this forum, you'll come away with all sorts of weird, untrue ideas of Orthodox Christianity.
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