Author Topic: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?  (Read 2009 times)

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Offline JamesR

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Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« on: June 11, 2016, 06:15:01 PM »
I do not mean this to troll, but out of genuine curiosity. It seems like the Church is for the most part Marcionist since the Old Testament seems to be relegated to the prophecies and Psalms alone, with everything else being viewed as non-authoritative or neutral at best. I know the Church has its explanation for our relation to the text--that whole 'fulfillment' thing--but it seems like every time it is explained to me, it is illogical, overly complex, and dodges the question. Either the Old Testament still carries weight or it does not. If it only applies insofar as it supports the New, then what is the point? It is just a confirmation bias that contributes nothing useful to our theology. One example is sex. The Old Testament contains oral in the Song of Songs and glorifies sex as fun and glorious (though obviously within the context of marriage), yet Orthodoxy is still extremely strict about sex even for its married couples and tries to minimalize its importance in every way possible. Another is the wrath of God and divine punishment. So many Orthodox people are open to or at least sympathetic to the universalist heresy, yet the Old Testament is pretty clear that God is angry, wrathful, and willing to punish. Back before he adopted the lazy 1960s hands-off approach to parenting in the New Testament. In each case, the Old Testament seems to have no bearing whatsoever on our theology. This is one of the main reasons I've utterly lost faith in Orthodoxy. It seems like for all of its beauty and great theological legacy, it has completely abandoned its Abrahamic roots as in the Old Testament. It is just Hellenism with a monotheistic veil. I wonder if this is why every member on this site who truly explored Orthodoxy on the metaphysical level to its roots lost faith and gave up. We smack talk folks like Yeshua a lot, but at least those Mennonite sects or whatever actually seem Abrahamic, like they incorporate the OT into their theology and lives. Orthodoxy's approach just does not make sense to me.

Offline Rohzek

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2016, 06:28:00 PM »
Have you tried reading any of the of early and medieval exegeses on the Old Testament? Many of the most comprehensive ones sadly remain untranslated, but there are some really good ones out there. Tychonius of Africa pulls extensively from the OT in his Book of Rules, although he focuses more on the Psalms, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The Venerable Bede also has a really good commentary on the Song of Songs that is in English translation. Again, a lot of these very extensive commentaries sadly remain untranslated, but the OT was taken quite seriously during Late Antiquity and possibly moreso during the Early Middle Ages. For example, St. Hrabanus Maurus wrote commentaries on the books of Judith and Ruth, which were generally written about much less. He even wrote a commentary on Leviticus. Again, a lot of this stuff remains untranslated simply because I think most Christians aren't as interested in them. But I don't think this constitutes Marcionianism.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2016, 06:35:24 PM by Rohzek »
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2016, 07:04:42 PM »
All Scripture is suit for our learning, all of it. The old covenant is obsolete and the Law has been fulfilled, but OT scripture speaks much more than that. Even the Law is suit for our learning, see the Epistle of St. Barnabas, for instance.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2016, 07:05:22 PM by RaphaCam »
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Offline Luke

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2016, 07:06:55 PM »
During Great Lent, the reading of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's website, http://www.goarch.org,  on weekdays is from Genesis, Proverbs, and Isaiah.

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2016, 07:18:08 PM »
Have you tried reading any of the of early and medieval exegeses on the Old Testament? Many of the most comprehensive ones sadly remain untranslated, but there are some really good ones out there. Tychonius of Africa pulls extensively from the OT in his Book of Rules, although he focuses more on the Psalms, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The Venerable Bede also has a really good commentary on the Song of Songs that is in English translation. Again, a lot of these very extensive commentaries sadly remain untranslated, but the OT was taken quite seriously during Late Antiquity and possibly moreso during the Early Middle Ages. For example, St. Hrabanus Maurus wrote commentaries on the books of Judith and Ruth, which were generally written about much less. He even wrote a commentary on Leviticus. Again, a lot of this stuff remains untranslated simply because I think most Christians aren't as interested in them. But I don't think this constitutes Marcionianism.

What language are these untranslated works written in? Seeing as I am finally in college, I probably could try learning a second one if it would be edifying. I want to learn more about the OT's place in Christendom.

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2016, 08:08:41 PM »
I do not mean this to troll, but out of genuine curiosity. It seems like the Church is for the most part Marcionist since the Old Testament seems to be relegated to the prophecies and Psalms alone, with everything else being viewed as non-authoritative or neutral at best. I know the Church has its explanation for our relation to the text--that whole 'fulfillment' thing--but it seems like every time it is explained to me, it is illogical, overly complex, and dodges the question. Either the Old Testament still carries weight or it does not. If it only applies insofar as it supports the New, then what is the point? It is just a confirmation bias that contributes nothing useful to our theology. One example is sex. The Old Testament contains oral in the Song of Songs and glorifies sex as fun and glorious (though obviously within the context of marriage), yet Orthodoxy is still extremely strict about sex even for its married couples and tries to minimalize its importance in every way possible. Another is the wrath of God and divine punishment. So many Orthodox people are open to or at least sympathetic to the universalist heresy, yet the Old Testament is pretty clear that God is angry, wrathful, and willing to punish. Back before he adopted the lazy 1960s hands-off approach to parenting in the New Testament. In each case, the Old Testament seems to have no bearing whatsoever on our theology. This is one of the main reasons I've utterly lost faith in Orthodoxy. It seems like for all of its beauty and great theological legacy, it has completely abandoned its Abrahamic roots as in the Old Testament. It is just Hellenism with a monotheistic veil. I wonder if this is why every member on this site who truly explored Orthodoxy on the metaphysical level to its roots lost faith and gave up. We smack talk folks like Yeshua a lot, but at least those Mennonite sects or whatever actually seem Abrahamic, like they incorporate the OT into their theology and lives. Orthodoxy's approach just does not make sense to me.

Someone needs some Fr. Paul Tarazi in his life.  But you're partially correct, in that there isn't enough deep studying of the Old Testament. It seems though if you read the Fathers, they knew the OT pretty well, may have even memorized portions of it.

But I don't think that means they haven't incorporated the general theological atmosphere of the Old Testament.  We have inherited whatever they practiced with most of us not appreciated it through their own manner of studying. 

I think it's appropriate before jumping to conclusion that "Mennonites" are more "OT" oriented than Orthodoxy, some Bible study would do well. 
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Offline Rohzek

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2016, 08:20:07 PM »
Have you tried reading any of the of early and medieval exegeses on the Old Testament? Many of the most comprehensive ones sadly remain untranslated, but there are some really good ones out there. Tychonius of Africa pulls extensively from the OT in his Book of Rules, although he focuses more on the Psalms, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The Venerable Bede also has a really good commentary on the Song of Songs that is in English translation. Again, a lot of these very extensive commentaries sadly remain untranslated, but the OT was taken quite seriously during Late Antiquity and possibly moreso during the Early Middle Ages. For example, St. Hrabanus Maurus wrote commentaries on the books of Judith and Ruth, which were generally written about much less. He even wrote a commentary on Leviticus. Again, a lot of this stuff remains untranslated simply because I think most Christians aren't as interested in them. But I don't think this constitutes Marcionianism.

What language are these untranslated works written in? Seeing as I am finally in college, I probably could try learning a second one if it would be edifying. I want to learn more about the OT's place in Christendom.

Latin. Much of what I am referring to here is written by the Carolingians. While their Christology leaves some to be desired, their works on the Old Testament tend to be really good. They were obsessed with the OT quite a lot. St. Gregory of Nyssa also has an interesting commentary on Exodus and Numbers titled The Life of Moses. It is translated into English as well. I was never able to finish it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2016, 08:21:16 PM by Rohzek »
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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2016, 08:40:01 PM »
Fr. Tadros Malaty is a living priest who compiled Patristic commentary to several books of the OT, many of his works may be found online.
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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2016, 10:41:55 PM »
Fr. Tadros Malaty is a living priest who compiled Patristic commentary to several books of the OT, many of his works may be found online.
:)
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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2016, 02:20:18 AM »
For what it's worth, most Jews (who have only the OT) wouldn't agree with the idea that "God is angry, wrathful, and willing to punish". Indeed, "angry-God-ism" was historically no more common among Jews than among Christians. A cynical person might argue that's simply the result of the rabbis trying to allegorize or explain away the uncomfortable parts of the OT, just as the Church Fathers supposedly did (according to you). But the fact remains that simply being immersed in the OT doesn't guarantee that a person will start to adopt the views you think they should.

At least some of the sex stuff you mentioned (if not all) may be the result of external influences, such as Platonism and Stoicism (in ancient times) or Latinizing/"Augustinianizing" (more recently).
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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2016, 04:51:41 AM »
Thanks for these questions. I am sympathetic to Marcion, although I think his heresy was in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It drives me nuts when people invoke the OT in an attempt to nullify or dismiss the clear teachings and example of Christ. I think there must be a heresy named for that as well. If not, there should be.

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2016, 05:01:58 AM »
I do not mean this to troll, but out of genuine curiosity. It seems like the Church is for the most part Marcionist since the Old Testament seems to be relegated to the prophecies and Psalms alone, with everything else being viewed as non-authoritative or neutral at best. I know the Church has its explanation for our relation to the text--that whole 'fulfillment' thing--but it seems like every time it is explained to me, it is illogical, overly complex, and dodges the question. Either the Old Testament still carries weight or it does not. If it only applies insofar as it supports the New, then what is the point? It is just a confirmation bias that contributes nothing useful to our theology. One example is sex. The Old Testament contains oral in the Song of Songs and glorifies sex as fun and glorious (though obviously within the context of marriage), yet Orthodoxy is still extremely strict about sex even for its married couples and tries to minimalize its importance in every way possible. Another is the wrath of God and divine punishment. So many Orthodox people are open to or at least sympathetic to the universalist heresy, yet the Old Testament is pretty clear that God is angry, wrathful, and willing to punish. Back before he adopted the lazy 1960s hands-off approach to parenting in the New Testament. In each case, the Old Testament seems to have no bearing whatsoever on our theology. This is one of the main reasons I've utterly lost faith in Orthodoxy. It seems like for all of its beauty and great theological legacy, it has completely abandoned its Abrahamic roots as in the Old Testament. It is just Hellenism with a monotheistic veil. I wonder if this is why every member on this site who truly explored Orthodoxy on the metaphysical level to its roots lost faith and gave up. We smack talk folks like Yeshua a lot, but at least those Mennonite sects or whatever actually seem Abrahamic, like they incorporate the OT into their theology and lives. Orthodoxy's approach just does not make sense to me.

The old testament is same like the new testament.
The God's law which is for forever is in the old testament. The prophets for which st. Paul say that they must be read are also in the old testament. Priests keeping beards unshaved and hair not cut by the sides according to the God's law from the old testament too, according to my priest.
Most Bible books are in the old testament and they are all important just like the books in the new testament. I personally like more the old testament, but the new testament is also useful. From the new testament I like the Orthodox Church and the saints and Lord Jesus Christ. I also heard one priest to say that in the old testament the women are animal for breed.

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2017, 11:54:28 AM »
Thanks for these questions. I am sympathetic to Marcion, although I think his heresy was in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It drives me nuts when people invoke the OT in an attempt to nullify or dismiss the clear teachings and example of Christ. I think there must be a heresy named for that as well. If not, there should be.

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2017, 12:00:30 PM »
Thanks for these questions. I am sympathetic to Marcion, although I think his heresy was in throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It drives me nuts when people invoke the OT in an attempt to nullify or dismiss the clear teachings and example of Christ. I think there must be a heresy named for that as well. If not, there should be.

Selam
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I think it would be called "Judaizing". That is an official term.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2017, 12:00:53 PM by rakovsky »
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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2017, 12:44:51 PM »
I think OT and NT connect with each other flawlessly.

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2017, 06:58:38 PM »
   OP one thing I've noticed is sometimes Christianity in general losses sight of the Old Testament's references to Babylon/Chaldeans/ Daughter of The Chaldeans  (Ancient Babylonian Sorcery, especially in Isaiah)

    All these references carry over to Revelation and Mysterey Babylon.

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2017, 07:12:17 PM »
I think OT and NT connect with each other flawlessly.

I don't if I would say 'flawlessly' but I agree they connect.  The writers of the New Testament were so knowledgeable about the Old Testament, for fairly obvious reasons.  There are so many quotes everywhere, straight from the OT.  The OT is really the backdrop of the NT.
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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2017, 09:58:41 PM »
The fact that the Bible is Gods word is enough for me to at least try and study it all my life.

I would suggest reading it using a guide that breaks it up in weekly parts, many are available and here is a site that gives many options for a yearly reading of the entire Bible.https://www.backtothebible.org/one-year-reading-plans
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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2017, 04:11:09 AM »
The fact that the Bible is Gods word is enough for me to at least try and study it all my life.

I would suggest reading it using a guide that breaks it up in weekly parts, many are available and here is a site that gives many options for a yearly reading of the entire Bible.https://www.backtothebible.org/one-year-reading-plans

Orthodox lectionaries exist, such as can be found in good Orthodox liturgical calendars. The hymns and prayers of the Church are also stuffed full of scripture.
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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2017, 12:52:31 PM »
Orthodox lectionaries exist, such as can be found in good Orthodox liturgical calendars.

While this is true, no Orthodox lectionary pretends to take you through the entire Bible.  For those who want to read the whole thing with some kind of structure, a one year reading plan might prove beneficial.

Quote
The hymns and prayers of the Church are also stuffed full of scripture.

Yes, written and composed by people who first read/heard the Scriptures.  Certain compositions almost presuppose a thorough knowledge of the entire Bible.
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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2017, 01:30:46 PM »
Orthodox lectionaries exist, such as can be found in good Orthodox liturgical calendars.

While this is true, no Orthodox lectionary pretends to take you through the entire Bible.  For those who want to read the whole thing with some kind of structure, a one year reading plan might prove beneficial.




http://www.nelsonfree.com/orthodoxstudybible

if you register they do indeed send you a plan to read the whole bible(2 year plan).  There is a more 'liturgical' style lectionary included in the OSB itself.
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Offline christiane777

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2017, 08:20:29 PM »
The fact that the Bible is Gods word is enough for me to at least try and study it all my life.

I would suggest reading it using a guide that breaks it up in weekly parts, many are available and here is a site that gives many options for a yearly reading of the entire Bible.https://www.backtothebible.org/one-year-reading-plans

I had really good luck reading the New Testament first.  It is only about 200 pages if that - you can get through it in about a month at just two hours a day.  Much easier to take for a Christian than the OT, at least it was for me anyway.  Fascinating in terms of early Christianity, how it formed in terms of doctrine, organization, sacraments.  What Jesus actually said and did, as opposed to what everyone is always saying he said and did - all sides of the spectrum.   Of course it is the inspired Word of God too, revelation.  You are in a sense in the presence of God.

Then tackle the Old Testament after a break of a couple months maybe.  My least favorite part is probably Genesis - Deuteronomy (though parts of D. are quite poetic) and the history, Kings, Samuel all that.  I remember one page where they are giving measurements for paragraphs and paragraphs and paragraphs.  2 X 4,  6 X 9.  Good for insomnia.  And the animal sacrifices make me almost ill.  Abraham asked to sacrifice Isaac - my God.  That one still throws me every time.   (I was glad to hear Augustine got almost physically ill from parts of the OT too.  Great minds.... :)

But I do so love the Psalms, Job, the Prophets, pretty much everything else.  The Psalms you can just pick up and read anytime for a few minutes or so but they are good to read as a whole too.  In some ways, my favorite part of the Bible.  Poetry for the soul.

Reading the Bible gives your faith a real foundation that never leaves you, a framework.  It did take years for me to get through it all though.  Many failed attempts.  So I am patient with people who have a hard time with it.  I also first read a few guides, instructions, intro books, just to help orient myself and understand things - Catholic and Anglican as I recall.  I was not in a study group or anything.  Just keep trying would be my advice to any struggling with it.  And, again, maybe try certain parts you are more interested in.  Get a cheap paperback version you can read in different places, carry around.

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2017, 10:28:55 PM »
Is it bad that the relative de-emphasis of the OT is actually feels like a plus point in Orthodoxy's favor to me? :P

I mean, of course I think it's important, being a part of God's revelation, but in my personal opinion Protestantism sometimes emphasizes it too much, even to the detriment of Christ's teachings. Though it also has something to do with just my subjective personal emotional reaction to a lot of things in the OT, being perfectly honest. Not all of it; like Christiane777, I am drawn to the poetry and prophets most of the time, but often am bothered by stuff in the history, such as the amount of violence, especially when it is mandated by God. This is all just my personal feelings, mind you.

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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2017, 09:31:22 AM »
Is it bad that the relative de-emphasis of the OT is actually feels like a plus point in Orthodoxy's favor to me? :P

Yes, it is.  Unfortunately, you're not alone in your opinion.  Converts to Orthodoxy and even cradles, and yes, even clergy, believe this nonsense.  You cannot understand the NT without the OT.  So what are we to make of the church's extended readings during Lent from the OT?  Or what about the continued use of the psalter?  Should those just be kept as mere pro forma staples of the liturgical services?  Maybe there should be some sort of note in church bulletins when the OT is read that it's not really important for the parishioners to pay attention. 

Frankly, imho, I think those who wish to de-emphasize or minimize the OT are closet Marcionites.
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Re: Does the Church Have Any Regard for the OT at All?
« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2017, 01:48:49 PM »
Orthodox lectionaries exist, such as can be found in good Orthodox liturgical calendars.

While this is true, no Orthodox lectionary pretends to take you through the entire Bible.  For those who want to read the whole thing with some kind of structure, a one year reading plan might prove beneficial.

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The hymns and prayers of the Church are also stuffed full of scripture.

Yes, written and composed by people who first read/heard the Scriptures.  Certain compositions almost presuppose a thorough knowledge of the entire Bible.

A person who only attends Divine Liturgy and never hears the Vespers, Matins or other services of the daily cycle, might be tempted to think we are only a New Testament faith.  But even the Gospels and Epistles read in the Divine Liturgy contain references to Old Testament sayings and events, as you can see from looking at any Bible concordance.

Knowledge of the the Old Testament is essential for understanding the deep theology found in our Church services. It is the Old Testament stories that will help us to interpret a hymn where the Theotokos is called: "ark, candlestick, table", "bush which burned yet was not consumed", "dew upon the fleece", etc. Or how can we really understand the deep repentance of King David in the Psalm "Have mercy on me, O God" if you haven't read about King David and the murder of Uriah? 

The main foundation of our church services is the book of Psalms (as is also testified to in the book of Acts - the original worship by the Apostles.) It is impossible to imagine that we would place such an emphasis on one Old Testament book yet throw out the rest. And each of the Old Testament prophets has a feast day on the Church calendar. Would we honor them as saints, yet throw out the Bible book named for them? The entire canon of the books of the Old and New Testament was ratified by council of the Church.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2017, 01:56:52 PM by CarolS »
Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?