Author Topic: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar  (Read 828 times)

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Offline michaelus

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Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« on: August 23, 2017, 08:28:32 PM »
" People should not take the Bible at face value, a leading British scholar has said after analyzing a unique Latin interpretation of the gospels from 800 AD...Dr. Hugh Houghton of the University of Birmingham said the Bible should not be taken literally, after studying a copy of a fourth-century commentary by African-born Italian bishop Fortunatianus of Aquileia, which reads the religious text as a series of allegories rather than literal history...He said the finding backs up assumptions that many early biblical scholars did not read the Bible as history, rather as a code of symbols...Houghton has hailed the 100-page document as “extraordinary,” given it also predates mainstream interpretations by famous scholars including St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine....The document is thought to be a copy from year 800 AD, written 400 years after the original."

https://www.rt.com/uk/400630-bible-literal-interpretation-religion/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/22/dont-take-bible-literally-says-scholar-brought-light-earliest/

(Note: I most certainly do not support the sentiment of this scholar)
« Last Edit: August 23, 2017, 08:29:29 PM by michaelus »
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2017, 08:32:42 PM »
He's not wrong, and he's certainly not right.

As an aside, what's it going to take for scholarly folks to get tired of the Bible-bashing? They've been at it for three centuries and it's embarrassingly old hat. Now that they have a secular society, you'd think they could move on. I guess small minds take to small occupations.
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Offline michaelus

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2017, 08:41:53 PM »
I have the same feeling about the "Bible scholars" these days, though I wish the articles would go into more detail about this commentary.  It sounded like gematria or something the way they described it.
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Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2017, 09:41:04 PM »
It should be taken allegory. It should be taken literally. These are not in conflict.
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Offline RobS

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2017, 10:04:30 PM »
Where's Isa to have field day on this scholar invoking St. Jerome?
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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2017, 11:14:55 PM »
Hugh Houghton shouldn't be taken literally.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2017, 08:43:29 PM »
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Offline William T

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2017, 09:19:10 PM »
There are many tools to analyze, read, and interpret the Bible.  While to be just literal is at best "Jewish" (which is high praise); at worst it's bat-crazy, nonsensical, and heretical, it is necessary and the most fundamental means of interpretation.  Origen with his system spent much much more time with literalism than most people who get into allegory now.  And if you want to look at his flaws, notice how his commitment to allegory and literalism go hand in hand.  Those who really preach one technique be it literal, historical, moral, allegorical, or whatever ought not really be trusted..and the quality of their work is bound to be sectarian, a trend, or eighth rate material.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 09:22:37 PM by William T »

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2017, 09:25:29 PM »
A literal understanding of Scripture is "bat-crazy, nonsensical, and heretical"?
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline William T

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2017, 09:28:28 PM »
A literal understanding of Scripture is "bat-crazy, nonsensical, and heretical"?

Pure literalism can be sure.  That should be basic.  I'm sure you can see the flaws of people obsessing about just allegory, historical context, or moralisms...all of these have led to major historical problems.  Should I mention the non christian elephant in the room of Wahabbism for "literalism"?  C'mon Porter, you know this.  Don't be a contrarian, it's not interesting.

And again, as you seem to have a knack to want to argue:  I think it's obvious in my post that I called literalism "necessary and the most fundamental" means for interpretation.  Again, do to your lack of reading skills, you have lost your privilege to talk to me in this thread unless a third party demands it for elucidation of one of our points.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 09:34:11 PM by William T »

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2017, 09:57:49 PM »
A literal understanding of Scripture is "bat-crazy, nonsensical, and heretical"?

Pure literalism can be sure.  That should be basic.  I'm sure you can see the flaws of people obsessing about just allegory, historical context, or moralisms...all of these have led to major historical problems.  Should I mention the non christian elephant in the room of Wahabbism for "literalism"?  C'mon Porter, you know this.  Don't be a contrarian, it's not interesting.

And again, as you seem to have a knack to want to argue:  I think it's obvious in my post that I called literalism "necessary and the most fundamental" means for interpretation.  Again, do to your lack of reading skills, you have lost your privilege to talk to me in this thread unless a third party demands it for elucidation of one of our points.

I'm not the contrarian here. The Scriptures are from God, fully true and trustworthy. Islam does not use the Holy Scriptures. Your inability to trust the Scriptures is a personal problem, whether because you have not been thoroughly-enough catechized or because you have made a poor choice.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline William T

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2017, 10:07:57 PM »
A literal understanding of Scripture is "bat-crazy, nonsensical, and heretical"?

Pure literalism can be sure.  That should be basic.  I'm sure you can see the flaws of people obsessing about just allegory, historical context, or moralisms...all of these have led to major historical problems.  Should I mention the non christian elephant in the room of Wahabbism for "literalism"?  C'mon Porter, you know this.  Don't be a contrarian, it's not interesting.

And again, as you seem to have a knack to want to argue:  I think it's obvious in my post that I called literalism "necessary and the most fundamental" means for interpretation.  Again, do to your lack of reading skills, you have lost your privilege to talk to me in this thread unless a third party demands it for elucidation of one of our points.

I'm not the contrarian here. The Scriptures are from God, fully true and trustworthy. Islam does not use the Holy Scriptures. Your inability to trust the Scriptures is a personal problem, whether because you have not been thoroughly-enough catechized or because you have made a poor choice.

you're right, i haven't been catechized in Porterism: which as far as I can tell seems to be about not reading anything, condemning people for not reading things properly, and committing oneself to pure literalism in reading things.  Don't get me wrong that's a sweet gig, if it would be called WilliamT-ism, I'm just not into Porterism at all.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 10:09:42 PM by William T »

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2017, 10:25:32 PM »
The literal reading is theoretically impossible
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Offline William T

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2017, 10:40:20 PM »
The literal reading is theoretically impossible

the average hair length of a lions mane is 8 inches in NYC when the moon is full

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2017, 10:48:53 PM »
the average hair length of a lions mane is 8 inches in NYC when the moon is full
Have you tested that hypothesis? 8)

Offline William T

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2017, 10:50:38 PM »
the average hair length of a lions mane is 8 inches in NYC when the moon is full
Have you tested that hypothesis? 8)

It's very much related to the story of how I, by tragic accident, became left handed

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2017, 10:55:07 PM »
the average hair length of a lions mane is 8 inches in NYC when the moon is full
Have you tested that hypothesis? 8)

It's very much related to the story of how I, by tragic accident, became left handed

Maimed by your own petard most like? It's a story as old as time.

Offline Jude1:3

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2017, 10:57:31 PM »
" People should not take the Bible at face value, a leading British scholar has said




« Last Edit: August 24, 2017, 10:58:43 PM by Jude1:3 »

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2017, 01:42:50 PM »
The literal reading is theoretically impossible

the average hair length of a lions mane is 8 inches in NYC when the moon is full
How would you go about a literal reading?
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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2017, 01:44:23 PM »
Get a room.
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Offline William T

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2017, 02:05:58 PM »
The literal reading is theoretically impossible

the average hair length of a lions mane is 8 inches in NYC when the moon is full
How would you go about a literal reading?

by believing in a concept of common sense, the law of identity, empirical evidence, and the language that is used to seperate things is generally speaking "good enough". "Pure allegory" (or literalism) or anything will be bound to break down, this should be more obvious than "pure literalism"...language, society, and other aspects of the human essence  and the way the mind comprehends it is an organic system bigger than any one minds ability to control it or define it.  The categories are grounded in a tradition that if it is used is "good enough", and in almost all cases better and much more sound than something that is dexcontextualized from the tracition that stands to try and condemn and oppose it.  I don't think there is such a thing as any Orthodox  hermeneutic Tradition (as I mentioned earlier, including Origen) that outright dispenses with literalism.  Maybe some very heterodox and fringe Russian Idealists in the 19th century who sniffed too much Hegel and German philosophy did, but I don't think they even did it, and as I said these guys are fringe and if they held some of those views those views would be even more fringe.

If you can't say or understand something like a fact without doing mental gymnastics that Christ came to to Earth during the Governorship of Pontius Pilate, died, and, physically rose.  There really isn't much to say or argue with.  I often wonder if a philosopher would say such things to a doctor who has to understand many common and technical languages if his life depended on the doctor operating on him.  And again, whatever technical language or help the  philosopher may be able to provide he is out of bounds to people when he negates any literal meaning.  A plumber may know a lot more about plumbing than me, but if he tells me he will make the toilet shoot feces out of the toilet everytime he flushes the plumber is wrong and probably needs to be fired.  If it helps tie the meaning / category of languages up to various functions and commands you perform, you are going to correspond to a "literal" interpretation.

At best someone analyzing language like this can only be a handmaiden to it's use and from studying various rules and uses (all of which exceed your mind) you may be able to abstract out a few rules on how language correlates to "what must be" in the world, as the function of many standard languages and the rules they follow is going to have the tendency to do that.

I'm not saying you don't need more to this than just a literal sense, but it is necessary and foundational.  It's been awhile since I had to think about this, but I believe the alternative is almost going to force you into a "behaviorist" kind of theory of language and closer to that kind of metaphysics...this would probably be the case if you took something like "allegory" as the end all be all of interpretation, which seems like an out to mars position to me.  It would be some riff off of the mind of a "super engineer" or maybe something like a Manichean.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 02:18:42 PM by William T »

Offline Sharbel

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2017, 02:10:46 PM »
It should be taken allegory. It should be taken literally. These are not in conflict.
One of the not many gifts from the Fathers are the four senses of Holy Scripture: literal, moral, allegorical, anagogical.  They are all there and no reading without any of them is complete.


Still, I never take a biblical scholar at face value.  Rather, I never take a biblical scholar at all, but run in the other direction.  Any pious and devout old lady understands the Bible more deeply than the absolute majority of such scholars, who care more about what their pagan peers in academia will think of them than their Judgment.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2017, 02:14:27 PM by Sharbel »
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Offline William T

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2017, 02:29:46 PM »
Also, if you want to subscribe to a creedal faith, that claims to be universal, show the dignity of all men and all that noble and lofty stuff, you are probably stuck with accepting that there is a literal dimension to things.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #23 on: August 27, 2017, 08:33:11 PM »
Pure allegory" (or literalism) or anything will be bound to break down, this should be more obvious than "pure literalism"
The problem is that if the literal is, by definition, raw and uninterpreted, then literalism entails pure literalism because joining the literal take with any interpretation (which I take to be the only sort of thing one could pair it with) would render the subject interpreted and thus non-literal.

This may be an extreme view or caricature of literalism, but it is what is required for literalism's promises (like representing "just what the text says").

We might say "initial reading" instead of "literal reading" to avoid this. And denying the literal does not negate realism.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2017, 08:34:54 PM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline William T

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #24 on: August 27, 2017, 11:09:22 PM »
Pure allegory" (or literalism) or anything will be bound to break down, this should be more obvious than "pure literalism"
The problem is that if the literal is, by definition, raw and uninterpreted, then literalism entails pure literalism because joining the literal take with any interpretation (which I take to be the only sort of thing one could pair it with) would render the subject interpreted and thus non-literal.

This may be an extreme view or caricature of literalism, but it is what is required for literalism's promises (like representing "just what the text says").

We might say "initial reading" instead of "literal reading" to avoid this. And denying the literal does not negate realism.

a) If literalism is a subset of hemerneutics, doesn't that already presume it is an interpretation

b) can't you just look at the definition of literalism as identified by its function, use, traditional categorization, and practice?

c) what Biblical thought in Orthodoxy outright rejects literalism as a category?

d) I don't know what the point of switching the name to "initial understanding".  I think this is primarily about intelligibility and the necessary bricks and mortar that are part of human understanding and action that makes things intelligible.  In this case, literalism is what ever grounds interpretation in an intelligible fashion.  You have to be able to learn and understand a language.  And by its nature language is something that has rules.

e) I don't see how it would be possible to raise a child, or even teaching an adult foreigner a language without any sense of the literal, or even function in society on a day to day level without a sense of the literal.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2017, 11:16:08 PM by William T »

Offline William T

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #25 on: August 27, 2017, 11:47:11 PM »
Pure allegory" (or literalism) or anything will be bound to break down, this should be more obvious than "pure literalism"

And denying the literal does not negate realism.

I never thought about this before, but you may be right.  Would this example be correct:

Means and Ends are human aspects that are real but aren't "material" but are products of the human mind.  Means and ends are necessary for some forms of intelligibility when we discuss human affairs.

If that's a case of realism, strictly speaking you might be right.

Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #26 on: August 28, 2017, 01:08:15 AM »
I don't think so. You are right to say there needs to be a background against which language is made intelligible, but I don't think this is the literal. It lacks the perspicuity of the literal..

As for realism, we can articulate and respond to a real thing without literally or clearly or perfectly accurately doing so. Our engagement with real things is "doing so better or worse", not "doing so or not."
« Last Edit: August 28, 2017, 01:08:31 AM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline Tallitot

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #27 on: August 28, 2017, 06:46:33 AM »
But should OC.net be taken literally?
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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2017, 01:45:59 AM »
But should OC.net be taken literally?
That would be heresy.  The orthodox position is to take OC.net anecdotally.  :D
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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #29 on: August 29, 2017, 03:07:07 AM »


What a curious icon.  We see the saints learning from a non-saint, who many, myself included, feel ought to be numbered as a saint.  One of my favorite saints is St. Epiphanius of Salamis, but in the Panarion, I believe he erred in attributing Arianism to Origen, since the Orthodox party also relied heavily on Origen's work.  He was right to include a chapter listing Origen's errors, and that chapter makes for interesting reading if read alongside the Philocalia (with a "c", the anthology of Origen's more doctrinally correct work compiled by the Cappadocians).
"It is logical that the actions of the human race over time will lead to its destruction.  I, Alpha 60, am merely the agent of this destruction."

- The computer Alpha 60, from Alphaville (1964) by Jean Luc Godard, the obvious inspiration for HAL-9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Offline Tallitot

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #30 on: August 29, 2017, 05:07:23 AM »
But should OC.net be taken literally?
That would be heresy.  The orthodox position is to take OC.net anecdotally.  :D
Is there any historical evidence, other then anecdotal, that the posters on OCnet actually exist?
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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #31 on: August 29, 2017, 01:25:27 PM »
<snip> I wish the articles would go into more detail about this commentary. <snip>

James Snapp has more info: http://www.thetextofthegospels.com/2017/08/fortunatianus-speaks.html
Quote from: J. Snapp, Jr.
Commenting on Matthew 5:26, he writes: 
Quote from: Fortunatiano
“The quadrans [the Roman coin that is called a “farthing” in the KJV] is the smallest sin.  It says that you will not come out from there except when the account of all your sins, even of the smallest, has been paid off.  For a quandrans has three dots on it. What do these three dots represent, if not the Trinity?  It is necessary that if anyone does not acknowledge wholeheartedly that the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is made of one substance, they are called to account for this.  For just as a quadrans consists of one, so the Trinity is of one substance.”
            Modern commentators of all theological persuasions may chuckle at the notion that the true lesson of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:26 is about the necessity of belief in the Trinity.  And yet, while we may prefer historically grounded commentaries, how many historically grounded commentaries have you read that mentioned the dots on a quadrans?
;D

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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #32 on: August 29, 2017, 08:03:25 PM »


What a curious icon.  We see the saints learning from a non-saint, who many, myself included, feel ought to be numbered as a saint.  One of my favorite saints is St. Epiphanius of Salamis, but in the Panarion, I believe he erred in attributing Arianism to Origen, since the Orthodox party also relied heavily on Origen's work.  He was right to include a chapter listing Origen's errors, and that chapter makes for interesting reading if read alongside the Philocalia (with a "c", the anthology of Origen's more doctrinally correct work compiled by the Cappadocians).

I can see why after Nicea the language Origen wrote theology with was difficult.  Even St. Basil the Great, who loved Origen, doesn't agree with everything he wrote.  I like St. Basil in that he takes a moderate approach.  He praises the man, but recognizes AT BEST terminological issues with Origen.

Same with St. Dionysius the Great of Alexandria.  He uses language that no longer becomes acceptable in theological discourse.

St. Athanasius on the other hand would defend Origen and Dionysius to show that they are misunderstood or that they have to be read in context, and in fact we can say that Nicene Orthodoxy does take root in Origen as well.

But of course, you have monks who also laud Origen that seem to exascerbate hatred towards the man.

So yea, I sympathize with St. Epiphanius, but I agree that Origen deserves great praise not just for his writings, but also for his martyrdom.  And when I study, I do have this "icon" on display with me. ;)

« Last Edit: August 29, 2017, 08:04:08 PM by minasoliman »
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Re: Bible shouldn’t be taken literally, says leading scholar
« Reply #33 on: August 29, 2017, 09:17:30 PM »
I don't think so. You are right to say there needs to be a background against which language is made intelligible, but I don't think this is the literal. It lacks the perspicuity of the literal..

As for realism, we can articulate and respond to a real thing without literally or clearly or perfectly accurately doing so. Our engagement with real things is "doing so better or worse", not "doing so or not."

I had to google perspicuity. Not certain whether I actually followed anything else, or not.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2017, 09:24:46 PM by mcarmichael »
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