One of my criticisms of the Orthodox Church is that the earliest authority we have on so many issues only goes back to the 3rd and 4th centuries at the earliest. I'd like more sources from the 2nd and 1st centuries to prove our doctrines. One example is Iconography; I have nothing against it, but, I can't find anything early to suggest that it was a part of worship. Sure, we have the stories of St. Luke being the first Iconographer and all, but where is the evidence? Those just seem like oral myths that developed in the 3rd and 4th centuries with really no earlier evidence to prove them.
Why do you jump to the conclusion that because there is no WRITTEN evidence of some teaching before a date, that teaching did not exist? That is a very questionable logical leap.
Because there is no one alive from back then to confirm whether or not the oral stories are true or really went back that far. Written evidence is the only evidence we have that bears witness to that period of time.
JamesR, this sums up the major issues I have with the church itself. Something as important to the Eastern Orthodox church such as iconography, and there is NO WRITTEN RECORD. Not only that, there are not any icons preserved from those periods. Only the legend of St. Luke.
However, the church does sing the psalms. Also the EO believe in the Eucharist as the 2nd century Christians.
That said there are some things of the earliest church but most things occurred AFTER 300. I get ripped all the time on here for just stating the obvious truth and fact.
Things made up out of thin air. Discos, asterisk, iconostasis, the fact pushed on that Mary & St. Joseph never had sex after Christ was born.... The gospel of Matthew makes a pretty clear indication that:
Joseph did not know her till after the birth.
The word "till" translates into "until" in other parts of the scriptures.
Joseph did not know her until after the birth.
But we get told by men 553 years later that "she was forever a virgin and never engaged in physical relation with St. Joseph".
Funniest thing about this argument is that truly it would NOT MATTER. If you think about it, a woman is pure if she is with her husband. So Mary & Joseph would be pure in a physical relationship bound in matrimony that GOD promoted.
Whether she did or not is not the point however, it's the fact that somebody came out and said "She didn't" at a council and the entire church bought into it. 553 years after the birth.
The reason James that I consult the earliest writings is I seek the truth past anything that "just came about" has "said" or "created". I am resolute in saying "I don't know", as I don't. And I certainly believe a bishop 500 miles away 553 years apart knew of what was in that bedroom. AND IT DOESN'T matter, it's just the fact "he says so and passes it off as fact".
Thus the "ever virgin" status exists in many many EO prayers. As I've stated in previous posts, I can accept "ever virgin" as always recognizing the virgin birth forever, but to state "Joseph never was physical with her" is so bizarre.
Again it only draws two conclusions:
1) Joseph or the Theotokos talked about their bedroom activities (probably to several people), and for some odd reason it was never recorded but passed orally (no telephone game applies) for 500+ years and it was the absolute correct message.
2) A celibate bishop decided that sex in marriage was somehow defiling or tarnishing a married woman. That somehow the bearer of God who was "one flesh" with her husband would be reduced somehow through physical means. This slaps matrimony in the face.
But it doesn't matter to me entirely if she did or didn't. What matters is how it seems made up.