It refers to the shadows and symbols of the Old Covenant in contrast to that offered under Christ. Under *both*, salvation is the result of faith, as made clear in the verses I mentioned.
Yes, after the resurrection they're brought into the Kingdom. Before that, they weren't, but waited until the age of Christ to be made perfect.
But does this mean that this [Kingdom of Heaven in the gospel account] is the "kingdom of God" referred to by Christ?
Well, they're both references from Christ's own lips, so I would assume so; what reason would there be to make a distinction between the two terms as referring to different things?
>>How do we know from the context of the passage that this is about prophets of Old and New Testament?
Well, istm that Majorie was comparing the "prophets of old" with those in "the new Kingdom," not that there were New Kingdom Prophets (which sounds like a Christian rap group) to be compared to. Minor point. To answer your question, the Lord called the Forerunner a prophet. Who do we associate prophecy with? The OT prophets, the Nevi'im
. After establishing this, He says "but
," then refers to the Kingdom of God in contrast
, in which the least of the citizens is greater than the prophets of old.
Your own reference (Matthew 11:11-12) shows that John is one of the prophets of old and puts forth the finale to their prophesying. Then, "from the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of God suffereth violence etc., For all the prophets and the law prophesied until
(and including, since the word is heos
>>Mary was still alive at this time, so that does not follow [that she would be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven mentioned by Christ]. This statement [that she was the greatest believer] also begs the question.
Well, yes; for you that second part begs the question. But as to the first part...how does Mary's being on earth (she's still alive now) hinder her from being in the Kingdom of Heaven?
>>What are we to make of this? Which of these interps posed in these small citations of the ECFs is correct? And who has the authority to tell us?
The Fathers aren't saying anything different from each other; they're only saying something differently, for the sake of (perhaps) making different points using similar information. St. Kyril says that "the blessed John, together with as many as preceded him, was born of a woman. But they who have received the faith, are no more called the sons of women, but are born of God [Jn. 1:12]. Those who are not of corruptible seed, but have been born of God, are superior
to anyone born of woman." St. Maximus ends his several options of what "least" means with the teaching that "the last among the NT saints is greater
than the greatest of the OT saints."
There's not a contradition here. Were you expecting, perhaps, a word-for-word parroting of the teaching from one father to the next? Even though that didn't happen in this case, they're both still saying the same thing...