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Author Topic: The Biblical canon and Orthodoxy  (Read 4321 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 18, 2006, 01:54:04 AM »

How does it work within Orthodoxy?

I have been led to understand that within Orthodoxy, the matter of the canon is left up to individual churches... the Russian canon is slightly different than the Greek canon is slightly different than the Antiochian, etc.  Is this true?

Moreover, I have also been told that some books carry more weight than others-the Gospels are considered more important that the epistles, for instance.  Is this true?

And what about the deuterocanonicals/apocrypha?  Is it just the same as the Catholic books, or are there others?

Also, what is the actual Orthodox canon, if it is united?  Or what is the canon of each individual church, if it is not?

Is the matter of canon an established thing that everyone in the Orthodox Church ought to accept, or is there a little leeway for individual conscience?

I'm sorry I'm asking so many questions, but I've been told many different things by many different people.  I want a substantive answer.
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2006, 02:34:19 AM »

How does it work within Orthodoxy?

You've just asked a question that is beyond the scope of any one, or dozen, doctoral theses. Wink

Quote
I have been led to understand that within Orthodoxy, the matter of the canon is left up to individual churches... the Russian canon is slightly different than the Greek canon is slightly different than the Antiochian, etc.ÂÂ  Is this true?

That's kinda true, in theory at least. In practice, it has been left to tradition.

Quote
Moreover, I have also been told that some books carry more weight than others-the Gospels are considered more important that the epistles, for instance.ÂÂ  Is this true?

Yeah, essentially. And I could even take that a step further, John is generally held in the highest regard as an author of Scripture, so his Gospel, or even one of his Epistles, carries more weight than something written by someone else; except, of course, the Book of the Apocalypse, which though is often attributed to him is somewhat questionable and was not really even accepted by the Eastern Church until quite late, and then reluctantly; it's still not read liturgically. Which really bring up one of the more objective measures of the authority of a text, if it is read liturgically or not. Something that is not read liturgically carries far less weight than something that is. Then, into this mix, you must throw in the Oecumenical Synods and the Patristic Writings. While the writings of Augustine may not stand up to the Gospel of St. John, you'd be equally hard pressed to argue the authority of Nahum over the Great and Holy Synod of Nicea, or even over Sts. Basil or Chrysostom.

Quote
And what about the deuterocanonicals/apocrypha?ÂÂ  Is it just the same as the Catholic books, or are there others?

There are others, depending on who you ask.

Quote
Also, what is the actual Orthodox canon, if it is united?ÂÂ  Or what is the canon of each individual church, if it is not?

It varies depending on local custom. If I had actually taken notes in my OT class, I may be able to answer the second part of this question, but, alas, I didn't. However, any lists I could give you would inherently be lacking. For, as I mentioned above, there is the entire corpus of Patristic and Synodal writings that must be taken into account, which, generally speaking, fall somewhere between one step above the Gospel of St. John and worthless. The issue of authority and authoritive documents is far more complex than any post, discussion, or series of online or even academic discussions could hope to explain. Heck, I'd even throw in Greek Philosophy as a highly authoritive source of authority within Orthodoxy, though, of course, I can't admit that this is what I'm using, but I just have to throw in a few patristic quotes for cover, then I can quote Plato as an authority in Orthodox Theology. 2000 years of conflicting schools of thought and theological debate leave a fairly complex landscape.

Quote
Is the matter of canon an established thing that everyone in the Orthodox Church ought to accept, or is there a little leeway for individual conscience?

Kinda, but dont press the personal consicence thing too far, if you start dismissing St. John or the Oecumencial Synods you're not likely to get too far.

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I'm sorry I'm asking so many questions, but I've been told many different things by many different people.ÂÂ  I want a substantive answer.

I wish a substantive answer was possible, but I fear it isn't. My best suggestion is to get a hold of a few copies of the Greek Orthodox Theological Review and start reading, after you read a few volumes you'll start to get a feel for the current state of things within Orthodoxy, though none of us will ever fully understand it.
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2006, 02:44:13 AM »

I believe that Archbp. Chrysostomos most succinctly articulated the Orthodox postion (in that the position seems to be that there is no dogmatic position)...

Quote
"It would be indeed unwise if we were to see the Orthodox attitude toward the Apocrypha as a kind of midpoint along our spectrum [ie. between the Protestant and Catholic positions on either side]. In this sense, we would abuse our conceptual construct. The Orthodox position is one which corresponds, in part, with both the Roman Catholic and Protestant views, neither representing one or the other faithfully, nor providing a distinct alternative to either. On the one hand, as in Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox accept the decrees of the Church Councils as authoritatively binding. On the other hand, they see these decrees as efficacious only when they are accepted by the universal Church and brought to full maturity by their compatibility with spiritual life and experience, with what is "Orthodox".

About this we will have much more to write. Suffice it to say that this principle (the marriage of practice and authority...) accounts for the fact that, today (as was so vividly apparent at the unfortunate Pan-Orthodox Synod of Rhodes in 1961), Greek theological thinkers fully accept the Apocrypha, while some contemporary Russian theologians express reservations about them. Yet the unity of the two Churches prevails. It is not that two attitudes prevail in one Church, but that the two attitudes define and constitute the position of the One Church." - Archbp. Chrysostomos and Bp. Auxentios, Scripture and Tradition, (Center For Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1999), pp. 21-22

Here are some threads from the past on the subject(s)...

Orthodoxy or Catholicism? The Scriptural Canon...
Question Concerning EO Canon of Scripture
Sources that verify the Canonicity of the Holy Bible
Different Books of the Bible by Jurisdiction
« Last Edit: August 18, 2006, 02:45:36 AM by Asteriktos » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2006, 03:22:44 AM »

Princess the Guardian or bishops found it necessary to protect the Truth of the Good News by holding to the quiet tradition that gnostics and judaizers would have misinterpreted. That is why her children are kept in the vessel of the womb so no attacks can be made against them for the Sacred Scripture that is held firm on the Divinely Inspired "works" given upon the men that acted upon the Composition of the Sacred Old Testament including the Apocrypha (or Deuterocanonical).

The Canonical Books being the Septuagint Old Testament is numbered by the Hebrew Alphabet (22)
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
Joshua
Judges and Ruth (considered one)
1 Kings and 2 Kings (in the KJV they are called First and Second Samuel)
3 Kings  and 4 Kings (1 Kings and 2 Kings in KJV)
First and Second Paralipomena (1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles in KJV)
1 Esdras (Ezra) and Nehamiah
Esther
Job
Psalms (Psalm no. 151)
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Songs
Isaiah
Epistle of Jeremiah including the Lamentations of Jeremiah
Ezekiel
Daniel
(12 books) and finally the Twelve Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)

But the non-cannonical books (Apocrypha) are recognized as valid Scripture but ony by distinction
Prayer of Manasseh
Tobit
Judith
1 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
[3 Maccabees]
[4 Maccabees]
[Odes]
Wisdom of Solomon
Ecclesiasticus
[Psalms of Solomon]
Baruch
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2006, 05:24:06 PM »

There are SOME answers to your questions, as much as GreekisChristian wants to get your mind thinking. 

I have to reexamine some notes I took, but here is a starting point. 

At the Council of Laodicea (364) A.D. the 60th Canon of that council proclaims the books which will be considered scripture.  There was also a document written by St. Athanasios with a similar list.  I'll try to find it.  For now, here's the Council's Canon:

http://reluctant-messenger.com/council-of-laodicea.htm#60canons

CANON LX.

THESE are all the books of Old Testament appointed to be read: 1, Genesis of the world; 2, The Exodus from Egypt; 3, Leviticus; 4, Numbers; 5, Deuteronomy; 6, Joshua, the son of Nun; 7, Judges, Ruth; 8, Esther; 9, Of the Kings, First and Second; 10, Of the Kings, Third and Fourth; 11, Chronicles, First and Second; 12, Esdras, First and Second; 13, The Book of Psalms; 14, The Proverbs of Solomon; 15, Ecclesiastes; 16, The Song of Songs;17, Job; 18, The Twelve Prophets; 19, Isaiah; 20, Jeremiah, and Baruch, the Lamentations, and the Epistle; 21, Ezekiel; 22, Daniel.

And these are the books of the New Testament: Four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; The Acts of the Apostles; Seven Catholic Epistles, to wit, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; Fourteen Epistles of Paul, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Hebrews, two to Timothy, one to Titus, and one to Philemon.
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2006, 05:38:54 PM »

Pretty much off-topic, but I have to point this out...

Princess...

It's Princeps... Tongue
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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2006, 05:50:59 PM »

That's ok, i'm hijacking it right back  Tongue

I found what I was looking for.  St. Athanasios' 39th Festal Letter.  He also states the different books. 

Here is the link:  http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2806039.htm
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« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2006, 06:13:46 PM »

Serb,

The problem with quoting, well, pretty much any Church Father or Council from the 4th century, and even the 5th century, is that for every position you give a quote to support, I can give at least 3 quotes that give completely contrary views. For example, people bring up Athanasius. In Letter 39, Athanasius said of the apocrypha: "there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read". But here are what other authorites/fathers said...

Cyril of Jerusalem said of them: "Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, and what those of the New. And, pray, read none of the apocryphal writings: for why dost thou, who knowest not those which are acknowledged among all, trouble thyself in vain about those which are disputed? Read the Divine Scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these that have been translated by the Seventy-two Interpreters." (Catechetical Lectures, 4)

Hilary of Poitiers said: "There are twenty-two books of the Old Testament... To this some add Tobit and Judith."

The Councils of Hippo (393) said: "Besides the canonical Scriptures, nothing shall be read in church under the name of divine Scriptures. Moreover, the canonical Scriptures are these: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, the four books of the Kings,(a) the two books of Chronicles, Job, the Psalms of David, five books of Solomon,(b) the book of the Twelve [minor] Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Tobias, Judith, Esther, the two books of Ezra,(c) and the two books of the Maccabees." (Canon 36)

The Councils of Carthage (397--Canon 24) and Carthage (419--24) agree with the Council of Hippo (393).

Augustine said: "Now the whole canon of Scripture on which we say this judgment is to be exercised, is contained in the following books... Tobias, and Esther, and Judith, and the two books of Maccabees,... For two books, one called Wisdom and the other Ecclesiasticus, are ascribed to Solomon from a certain resemblance of style, but the most likely opinion is that they were written by Jesus the son of Sirach.14 Still they are to be reckoned among the prophetical books, since they have attained recognition as being authoritative." (On Christian Doctrine, 2, 8 )

Junilius said: "'Do no other books belong to divine history?' Many people add two books of Paraleipomena, Job, Tobit, Ezra, Judith, Esther, two books of Maccabees. 'Why are these books not current among the canonical Scriptures?' Because among the Hebrews, too, they used to be excluded with regard to this distinction, just as Jerome and the others testify... 'Which kind is the proverbial?' A certain figurative manner of speaking, saying one thing, meaning another, and giving advice in present time. 'In which books is this kind received?' In two, Solomon's book of Proverbs and the book of Jesus, grandson of Sirach. 'Is no other book put under this kind?' Certain people add the so-called book of Wisdom and the Song of Songs." (Instituta Regularia Divinae Legis)

And Junilius says something else in this work that I think is quite important: "'How is the authority of the divine books viewed?' That certain ones are of complete authority, certain of moderate, certain of none. 'Which are of complete authority?' Those canonical works which in their several kinds we have completely enumerated. 'Which of moderate?' The ones which we have said are added by many. 'Which are of no authority?' All the rest. 'Are these distinctions found in all the kinds of discourse?' All these distinctions are found in history and plain teaching; but in prophecy, books of moderate authority are not found, except for Revelation, nor in the proverbial kind are there works altogether devoid of authority."

The Canons of the Apostles said: "To all you Clergymen and Laymen let the following books be venerable and sacred... three of the Maccabees... it is permissible for you to recount in addition thereto also the Wisdom of very learned Sirach by way of teaching your younger folks." (Canon 85)

According to Jerome, The First Ecumenical Council included the book of Judith in it's O.T. Canon (Preface to Tobit and Judith)

And finally, the 2nd Canon of the 6th Ecumenical Council accepted numerous earlier canons which contradict each other regarding what constitutes the canon of Scripture.

Anyway, that is just a quick glance at the 4th through 7th centuries, but hopefully it's enough to justify GIC's "let's get 'em thinking" approach, rather than encouraging the normal "let's get into apologetic mode" approach, which I see in chatrooms all the time and drives me bonkers Grin
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« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2006, 06:20:16 PM »

Asterikos,

THANKS MAN!  That was awesome!  I really liked your response.  It would have taken me FOREVER to refind all of that in my notes.  I'm really glad you're on top of your apologetics  Wink cuz i'm a little slow today. 

Anyway, like I said earlier, there is validity to GiC's methods, etc.  Can I ask you what YOU believe is the difference between the  "let's get 'em thinking" approach, vs. the "let's get into apologetic mode" approach. 

Can you also enlighten me as to why the latter drives you bonkers?  (I think I know why, but i'd rather not assume).  You can feel free to PM me if you think this might get you into trouble...I'm just curious as to what your take is...
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« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2006, 06:39:14 PM »

I guess what gets me is that, even if you show/tell something to someone, and they agree with you, they will totally disregard it a second later and go right back to what they had been saying. For instance, I enjoy playing devil's advocate (ie. truth's advocate, in this case  Tongue ) in Catholic chat rooms sometimes. When Protestants come into the room, someone will almost always say something like "Where did the Bible come from? The Church wrote it! The Church decided what the Bible canon was in the 4th century!"  Now, with all due respect, I consider that to be balderdash. I mean, I agree that the New Testament canon, and most of the Old Testament canon, was pretty well finalized by the end of the 4th century (with some notable later exceptions, such as Pope Innocent and John of Damascus, who had a slightly different canon). However, the claim that is always made is not "We were pretty sure," but more like "We finished it. Catholics sealed it forever! You changed it in the 16th century! Nyah!" I guess that's the difference between non-apologetic and apologetic mode... when people are in apologetic mode, they just seem to be very rigid, and tend to speak in an exaggerated way about the amount of proof that their position has.

So, I will point out some of the Fathers and such that I mentioned above, and other Fathers who disagreed with their position (e.g., Gregory the Theologian, one of their doctors, excluded all the apocrypha). I will show them the references, they'll cyber-nod their head. I'll show them that Jerome, their most famous biblical scholar, and a guy living in the 5th century, rejected the apocrypha. They'll agree that what I'm saying is right. And then a Protestant will come in an hour later and they'll just start all over again with "Do you know where your bible came from? We wrote it. Why did Luther take books out of the Bible? Everyone agreed on it in the 4th century!" The apologetical arguments are so imbedded into their approach to discussion, that they have an extremely difficult time in changing, even when they can admit that they should. I mean, I know where they are coming from, those chat rooms move quick, almost everyone tends to develop certain arguments, collect certain proof texts, etc., and then just use the same ones when people come in. It's hard to change, because who wants to go from a position where you appear strong and sure, to a position where you appear unsure and even perhaps somewhat agnostic on a topic?

I guess for me, the difference between the two approaches is that the thinking approach requires that you consider all the opposing views, while the apologetic approach basically provides you with your position by giving you a bunch of quotes to support the position, and mostly ignores any contrary evidence. The apologetic approach also tends to be more dogmatic, at times when I don't think a rigid approach is either necessary or beneficial. I remember one night on Paltalk, I was starting to get really frustrated, so I said that the Catholic view of the canon was ethnocentric. Well, I just about lost my head that night, lol. Smiley I didn't mean to be disrespectful, but only try to shock them into realizing that what they think is "the Bible canon" is merely what European man accepted, non-dogmatically, as the canon. Ethiopian Christians, Syrian Christians, etc. might very well differ, and I can provide evidence that they did, in fact, differ. It is not simply a case of "Everyone having the same Bible for 1,200 years, until Martin Luther changed things". Anyway, those are my thoughts.
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« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2006, 07:41:45 PM »

Asteriktos, the point you seem to be hinting at seems similar to the one I was suggesting. It is a norm that transcends religion and culture. Ultimately, if you're a good enough rhetorician the Betty Crocker Cookbook could be used as a source of dogma; if your skill is, however, lacking no source may be sufficient, no matter how revered. Also, your audience matters, if a posistion is comfortable and familiar to them they will easily accept it, thus the challenge is to make the unfamiliar seem familiar, that is the true apex of rhetoric.

If a position, no matter how true, is unfamiliar to a person then they will most likely reject it (try explaining the theory of relativity to people unschooled in science if you dont believe me, you'll be surprised how many refuse to believe in length contraction or time dilation, though sometimes if you appeal to a familiar authority such as Einstein, they will come arround, not because they believe the science with is true, but because they trust the source, who is familiar). This is why an appeal to scripture read liturgically is so strong, it is familiar, it is, theoretically, part of the Christian experience, and to admit that it is not part of one's liturgical and spiritual experience would be a source of shame.

Thus my point above, one has to make themselves familiar with the current research and thought within Orthodoxy to know what is authoritative and what is not; for, ultimatley, authority comes from familiarity and knowledge of what is familiar only comes with experience.
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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2006, 01:53:21 AM »

So... it seems to me that the idea of a unified church doctrine on the matter, such as what exists in Catholicism or Protestantism, is not the norm here.

I would imagine that the main thought, then, would be to focus less on dogma and more on God, and from every individual in the church striving to follow God, it becomes evident what the truth is?

Would that be an accurate assessment?  Because that, I could buy... it's a group of people following the Holy Spirit and   not always understanding correctly but following earnestly.  And so long as they follow earnestly, it's acceptable.
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« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2006, 05:32:50 PM »

In general, most Orthodox Christians in the US utilize at present the King James Bible with Apochrapha.  We all lookforward to the new Old Testament Orthodox Christian Study Bible.  There is also a concurrent English translation that has been sponsored by Prince Phillip thru the Ecumenical Patriarch, however that seems further away at present.

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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2006, 10:38:33 AM »

So... it seems to me that the idea of a unified church doctrine on the matter, such as what exists in Catholicism or Protestantism, is not the norm here.

I would say that there IS a unified church doctrine.  However, this church doctrine is comprised of MANY different opinions and MANY different takes on a certain subject.  That's why we had the Ecumenical Councils. 

Quote
I would imagine that the main thought, then, would be to focus less on dogma and more on God, and from every individual in the church striving to follow God, it becomes evident what the truth is?

Um...i'm not sure I understand this, but i'm gona venture an answer anyway.  In a modern context VERY few people are worried about "dogmatic principles" and yes they are more preocupied with "striving to follow God" in their lives.  But, that's just one level of the commitment.  I think that it has to be WAY more involved.  Every person SHOULD have a deeper understanding of Dogmatic principles. 

Quote
Would that be an accurate assessment?  Because that, I could buy... it's a group of people following the Holy Spirit and   not always understanding correctly but following earnestly.  And so long as they follow earnestly, it's acceptable.

Um...I really wouldn't describe it this way.  I don't think i've EVER met an Orthodox person who is "following the Holy Spirit earnestly"  and to be honest that sounds very Protestant.  I think an Orthodox perspective on what we're doing is more wholistic.  I think that we are trying to do a lot of things at the same time, with the HS as a guide, but we are not going out of our way to focus on the HS.  I think that we utilize the saints more than we do the HS.  But, then again, when you pray to a saint the HS is involved.  We are just not saying things directly to the HS. 

I also don't know if it would be acceptable to just follow earnestly.  I think in Orthodoxy we are called to not only follow, but to LEAD as well.  We also need to have KNOWLEDGE of the faith.  But I guess if you were to "follow earnestly" it would lead you to all those things. 

Can you maybe clarify your questions and points?  Thanks! 
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2006, 10:46:46 AM »

Asterikos,

Quote
I guess what gets me is that, even if you show/tell something to someone, and they agree with you, they will totally disregard it a second later and go right back to what they had been saying.

Was that a hint?  Wink  Grin

Thanks for the response.  It was just as enlightening as the first one. 

I had a question for you though.  Would you say that someone could combine the two approaches?  Lets say you want to be an apologetic to someone about a certain topic.  Lets say the same topic we just talked about, the Scriptures.  Could you be well versed in the complexities of opinions concerning the Scriptures and still (yet) put forth an opinion in order to help someone understand their church's understanding of what scripture is (like I sort of tried to do  Wink )

What would you suggest someone could do in that instance?  Something I just thought of now is that maybe you would suggest telling the person the ENTIRETY of the complexity of Scripture and the Canon, yet help them understand that the Orthodox church (or any other) has "settled" for a certain canon and its....A, B, and C...etc. 

Would that be a good synthesis?  Or.... Huh
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« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2006, 12:13:34 PM »

Lol, no I definately wasn't talking to you. And I suppose if you are an Orthodox Christian, it would be an excellent approach Smiley Hopefully since I'm not Orthodox this won't have the tone of triumphalism, but the Orthodox are really in the best position to give a full and historically accurate account of the canon formation, such as it is, because they are not quite as restricted by requirements (except for the use of the Septuagint, which most Orthodox who talk about the subject seem to hold almost dogmatically--it was a point that the late Jaroslav Pelikan considered built upon "shaky exegetical grounding," but anyway...).

I guess since Orthodoxy never really had a single, earthly, ecumenical, moment-to-moment authority, there wasn't a need to be on the same page on 1,001 different dogmas. The Catholics had the Pope and the Church, who you had to agree with or you weren't Catholic. So what the Council of Trent said, with the Pope's endorsement, was so; if you disagreed with their canon (and were RC) then you were excommunicated and could expect a bad judgment day unless you repented. It was even easier for the Protestants, because they made the Bible their earthly authority, their conduit to God so to speak, so obviously they wanted to establish the parameters of this single, authoritative, conduit.

I will say though that, if you've never read St. Symeon the New Theologian, he's pretty into the whole Holy Spirit experience thing, he might be interesting reading. Though he was sort of a unique one.
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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2006, 01:39:22 PM »

How does it work within Orthodoxy?
Princeps, generally speaking, the Orthodox use all the books of both the Hebrew and the deuterocanon, and the generally accepted NT canon.  There was not as much a need within Orthodoxy to nail down a canon as there was in the West at the Reformation.  You're right that different books have different uses- I would not really characterize this as "different importance," though the Gospels are given great honor.  Some books are used for teaching but not read liturgically, for instance.

I assume by your question if people can individually decide not to hold certain books as Scripture or not, that you're wondering about having to consider the deuterocanon Scripture should you become Orthodox?  I think if you reach that point, it won't matter so much, but the short answer to your question would probably be "no."  However, your priest would be the one to help there.
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« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2006, 10:14:07 AM »

Asterikos,

Thanks for the vindication  Wink

At Hellenic College/Holy Cross we learned in our OT class that the Septuagint was a good basis, but that if we were going to move into REAL exegesis we would have to look at the Massoritic Text and learn Hebrew.  Our professor even mentioned that the Syriac version may be a better translation than the Greek.  He also pointed out why, which was definately interesting. 

My whole point with that is that i'm not really enthralled with the Septuagint because of this, and my whole basis of the OT is based on hard-core Hebrew exegesis. 

You said something about Orthodox NOT being restricted by requirements?  Can you be more specific on what that means for Orthodox?  Like for the RC's they have Trent, and b/c of that they're stuck in that proclamation.  Whereas, for the Orthodox we can be more fluid in what we believe?  Wouldn't you say that there technically IS a prescribed canon??  Even with the alternating opinions? 

I think the EO would see it as the Scripture is generally understood as A, B and C.  Whereas we KNOW that there are different opinions on the matter, we have generally accepted it as A, B and C.  Would that be a "good enough" way to look at it?  Or would you say that we should expect more? 

Sorry for all the questions, but you started it  Tongue  Wink
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« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2006, 11:04:53 PM »

Quote
I assume by your question if people can individually decide not to hold certain books as Scripture or not, that you're wondering about having to consider the deuterocanon Scripture should you become Orthodox?

Believe it or not, no.  I have no issues with the deuterocanonicals.  I'm something of a weird Protestant in this regard.  But what makes me even weirder is the books that I DO have a problem with-the epistles.

In 1 Corinthians 7:12 the Apostle Paul basically indicates that he isn't always inspired by God.  Now, coming from a Protestant understanding of the Bible, which is that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, what Paul would be saying here would be that his books aren't inspired and therefore shouldn't be part of the Protestant canon.

Now, I necessarily would take Paul at his word-if he himself is going to say he wasn't divinely inspired in that verse, and he has to spell out when he IS inspired (as in verse 10 in that same chapter), I would say it would be shaky theological ground to consider the entire Biblical canon of the New Testament to be divinely inspired by God.

I could understand saying it's useful, it's helpful, etc.  And I have no issues with people who want to believe in it as the divinely inspired Word of God, but I don't agree with them.  I'm not saying Paul never was inspired; he clearly was stating the Word of God in 2 Thessalonians when he related a prophecy in that epistle.  But he's not always divinely inspired from what I can determine, and when he is he takes pains to instruct the reader of that fact beforehand.

My question, then, would be if I have to consider Paul's epistles (and the epistles of other NT writers) to be divinely inspired in all instances in order to be an Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox in good standing, or if I'm free to follow what I see to be obvious and true and still join the Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox churches.
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« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2006, 12:59:40 AM »

I'm probobly explaining this the wrong way.  And usually I would keep my mouth shut if I thought that I was steering someone wrong, but no one else has answered your question yet. 

I would say that the Word of God is God, and that Paul IS divinely INSPIRED to write.  However, that doesn't mean that every letter he wrote was a movement of the HS and that every word that God told him was remembered. 

Maybe another way to look at it is that St. Paul was divinely inspired to write certain things, but that doesn't mean that he didn't make mistakes.  He was human also, and if we take that part out then why did God use a human being in the first place?  Why not just write it Himself?

Sorry if I offended anyone it was not my intent.  Its late and i'm a little tired... Wink
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« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2006, 01:17:08 AM »

One of the reasons that the Septuigent is used by the Orthodox Church is that is best shows the Old Testament as it stood among Jews at the time of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  It was translated from Hebrew around the same time and is seen to be the best example of what the common Jew in the Middle East and the known world read and believed were scriptures at the time of Jesus---the result is we have can put what Jesus said and taught into proper cultural context. What the Jews believed after Christ, and there is a significant change in what they included after Christ than before, is not of consequence for Christians who want to know what Jesus and the people of His time accepted as God's Word.

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« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2006, 01:34:40 AM »

The interpretation that I understand of 1 Cor 7:12 is that St Paul refers to the fact that while the Lord spoke explicitly about the the permanancy of marriage, as is clear throughout the four gospels, He did not with regards to this particular issue and so St Paul as an "ambassador for Christ" speaks authoritatively on these issues, ie through Divine inspiration.

I don't think that St Paul believed that portions of his writings were inspired while others were not and believers could leave things open to their own consciences to decide what is and what's not. This is quite clear as not too far from this passage he also says,

"If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Cor 14:37)

Understood in any other way the above would be a blatant contradiction of 1 Cor 7:12.

Furthermore, we have also the following:

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Gal 1:8-12)

"For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe." (1 Thess 2:13)

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16-17)
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« Reply #22 on: August 24, 2006, 12:27:51 AM »

Quote
Maybe another way to look at it is that St. Paul was divinely inspired to write certain things, but that doesn't mean that he didn't make mistakes.  He was human also, and if we take that part out then why did God use a human being in the first place?  Why not just write it Himself?
That I could accept.

Quote
"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ." (Gal 1:8-12)

I'm not rejecting the gospel of Christ here, aka the good news of salvation which is what Paul was speaking of here.

Quote
"If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Cor 14:37)

Does it say "all things that I write to you are commandments of the Lord"?  I think it's obvious that Paul was inspired a few times when he wrote.

Quote
"For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe." (1 Thess 2:13)

Once again, this refers to the gospel of Jesus Christ, I would think; not every word Paul ever wrote or uttered.  Anyway, it says heard, not read, so the inspired message, whatever it was, has not found its place in the canon.
Quote
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16-17)
This is clearly referring to the Septuagint/Old Testament, which was a written and established canon already.  Not all of Paul's works had even been written yet when he said this... so this verse can't really beused to justify the divine inspiration of all of Paul's writings.
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« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2006, 12:36:32 AM »

Princeps,

If you don't mind me asking, has any of this brought you closer to an answer?  I'd hate to leave you hanging, especially if you still have questions. 

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« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2006, 02:49:52 AM »

It's helping.  I'm seeing the diversity of viewpoints in Orthodoxy and I'm getting questions answered.  So far I think I can accept the stance of Orthodoxy, but I really do need to talk to a priest.

Thanks for taking time out to answer my questions. Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: August 24, 2006, 05:38:49 PM »

My question, then, would be if I have to consider Paul's epistles (and the epistles of other NT writers) to be divinely inspired in all instances in order to be an Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox in good standing, or if I'm free to follow what I see to be obvious and true and still join the Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox churches.
Well, as you indicate, what you're laying out is a Protestant view of the Scriptures, which is not to begin with an Orthodox one!  The demands and categorizations forced on the workings of the early church by Sola Scriptura do not apply.

So, practically speaking, I'd say you have on the one hand less of a problem, and on the other hand a pretty big problem.  Because while the stand-alone authority of the written Scriptures is not viewed as so crucial in Orthodoxy as in the Protestant worldview, the work of the apostles is seen with far greater importance than in Protestantism.  It is through them- not only their written instruction but the oral Tradition- that we have inherited the faith.  If what you're saying is that St. Paul and other apostles are not reliable as teachers, you will have difficulty making your way in Orthodoxy.  Please be sure to bring this topic up in your conversations with the priest.
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« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2006, 06:43:22 PM »

Asterikos,

Thanks for the vindication  Wink

At Hellenic College/Holy Cross we learned in our OT class that the Septuagint was a good basis, but that if we were going to move into REAL exegesis we would have to look at the Massoritic Text and learn Hebrew.  Our professor even mentioned that the Syriac version may be a better translation than the Greek.  He also pointed out why, which was definately interesting. 


Serb,

Can you explain, from your professor's viewpoint, why the Syriac would be considered a better translation?  Also, wouldn't his viewpoint conflict with the tradition of divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit to translate the OT from the Hebrew to Greek?

And, to my mind, going back to the Masoretic text would not "necessarily" be best for REAL exegesis.  The Masoretic text wasn't codified until the around the 4th century A.D. (if memory serves) and there are some big differences between what the Septuagint says and what the Hebrew text says, especially in the Psalter. 

Scamandrius
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« Reply #27 on: August 24, 2006, 06:52:26 PM »

Begun to be codified in the 4th century - through the 9th
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« Reply #28 on: August 24, 2006, 07:19:13 PM »

Aristoklis,

Thanks for the clarification.  I agree with those dates. 

Scamandrius,

I'm going to have to go back through my notes to find the reference to Syriac, and I have some people comming in from out of town, so it might take me a while. 

I do have some answers now though if that's OK. 

Quote
Also, wouldn't his viewpoint conflict with the tradition of divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit to translate the OT from the Hebrew to Greek?

First of all, I think that he was trying to make a point that we shouldn't rely so heavily on the Greek, and that there are actually "better" (notice the quotes) translations/versions out there.  There may have been some unclarity in my prior statement. 

Also, if you're talking about the 70 scribes doing their translation, yes I would agree that there is a tradition of divine inspiration, but when we're talking about exegesis our professor pointed out to us that there were elements lacking in the Septuagint that wern't lacking in the Syriac. 

I would also like to point out that our professor was DEFINATELY big on us knowing the Greek Septuagint, but he was also one of the foremost scholars of semitic languages in the world, so his focus was on semitic exegesis, and hence the comments about Syriac. 

Quote
And, to my mind, going back to the Masoretic text would not "necessarily" be best for REAL exegesis.  The Masoretic text wasn't codified until the around the 4th century A.D. (if memory serves) and there are some big differences between what the Septuagint says and what the Hebrew text says, especially in the Psalter. 

The reason why I brought up the Masoretic Text was because it has all of the vowels placed in between the consonents, which means you don't have to necessarily have a Doctorate in order to figure it out.  It also was a huge project which brought together many different versions of the Hebrew Texts and provided the most solid translation. 

There being differences between the Hebrew and Greek OT's is a perfect example of why we need to go to the Hebrew original to better understand the complexities of what is being said.  We did 99% of our exegesis in class from looking at the meaning of Hebrew words.  We didn't get nearly as much content by searching through the Greek text. 

Our class was centered on etymology and we did a lot of exegisis based on one word or phrase. 

I hope this answers some of your questions....examples are pending... Wink

P.S.  I may not be able to be exact in my example references, so when we get there I may have to preface things with a disclaimer... Smiley
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« Reply #29 on: August 24, 2006, 11:01:16 PM »

I can accept that we received the faith through the apostles, but elevating them to Godlike status?

They were just fellow workers of the faith.  They were used of the Holy Spirit, but aren't we all supposed to be?  I don't claim that my writings ought to be considered divinely inspired.

Having their specific teachings as a part of tradition is fine-I'm not ANTI-apostle.  But there has to be a distinction between the words of men and the Word of God.
I will bring this up with the priest, because it's pretty important to me.
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« Reply #30 on: August 24, 2006, 11:12:47 PM »

I can accept that we received the faith through the apostles, but elevating them to Godlike status?

Huh? "God-like" status? And may I ask where did you get that from?
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« Reply #31 on: August 25, 2006, 09:14:53 AM »

To each person, specific gifts or Charisms are given bythe Holy Spirit. To the Apostles and our current Heirachs or Bishops were given charisms that we as lower clergy, laity, catechumen, and inquierors do not have. The Charisms do not make them God but  like us their charisms are given to them to bring them into Theosis and allow the Apostles, Bishops, Laity etc to witness to othere the truth and power of the Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2006, 07:05:34 PM »

I can accept that we received the faith through the apostles, but elevating them to Godlike status?

They were just fellow workers of the faith.  They were used of the Holy Spirit, but aren't we all supposed to be?  I don't claim that my writings ought to be considered divinely inspired.
Like other posters, I'm confused about the phrase "godlike status."  God does indeed work through all of us, and in fact in Orthodoxy we speak of the goal of knowing God as not only salvation, but "deification"- union with God.  So of course there is a sense where the apostles are just like us, in that they too had to work out their salvation even as God was using them incredible ways.

However, Scripture does show that they were specially chosen for a role that is unlike that of other believers.  In John 17 when Jesus prayed for all believers, He prayed first and foremost for His apostles.  If they had not been faithful, where would we be?  But in fact they were, and because they were specially chosen by Christ to bring God's Word to all people, because they lived with Him and heard His teachings firsthand, and because they faithfully ran their race even to death- for these reasons and more, their works and words are special.  It was not their own claims, but Christ's choosing of them, that makes their work foundational to the church.

Is there some specific problem or lack you see in St. Paul's epistles that led you to this opinion?
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« Reply #33 on: August 26, 2006, 07:49:27 PM »

Quote
Huh? "God-like" status? And may I ask where did you get that from?

Well, it's like this.  Paul was a great Christian, no doubt about it.  He started evangelizing the Gentiles, and is the main reason most of us are Christians today.  I'm not questioning that the guy was a mighty tool of God.

BUT.  My problem lies in putting his words on the same level as those of Christ's, or of God's in the Old Testament.  He was a Christian man spreading the Gospel, a vessel for the Word of God, and the message he carried was divinely inspired.  But he, himself, was just a man-how could his opinions, his writings, be divinely inspired?

When Christ spoke, every last sound He uttered was the very Word of God, whether recorded for posterity or not.  Not true with Paul.  Paul attested to Christ's power and bore witness to Him in many of his letters, and that message was inspired because it related the actions and sayings of Christ, Who was inspired.

But when Paul starts talking about how women should have long hair and men short?  When he starts getting into all those little cultural commands?  When he tells Timothy to mix a little wine in with his water?  You can't tell me that that's the divinely inspired Word of God, which unchanges and is the same for all ages.  Am I then sinning to have long hair or drink plain water?

It's not just Paul.  When I read the entire Protestant Bible, it all makes sense as one coherent narrative with one unifying doctrinal position... until I get to the epistles.  You see Paul advocating salvation by faith, and James advocating salvation by works, and neither one of these seems to fit in with the entire rest of the Biblical narrative, which seems to indicate that you are saved by having a relationship with God, not by some one-time salvation experience which you then go on to ignore the rest of your life, or by doing good deeds but never really communing with God either.

It's my opinion that these guys were great Christians, and their books are useful reading, and a lot of what they have to say is very useful, and edifying to believers.  But to consider their words, ALL of them, to be the divinely inspired Word of God, the same level as Jesus Christ's words?  No.

Is there any room in Orthodoxy for that POV?
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« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2006, 04:02:42 AM »

Princeps,

I would tend to agree with you (except for the drinking only water part...that's just plain ole' wrong, and as the Bishop of Bourbon I must condemn that (If you have any questions, read through the 'Random Posts' thread) life just ain't worth living without enjoying a good bourbon from time to time), I find some books more inspired than others; though, personally, I'd rank authority by authors rather than by who they claim to be quoting. Is St. Paul inspired? Yes, of course. Is he infallible? No, not at all. The truth of the matter is that St. Matthew and St. Paul have never enjoyed the same status within Orthodoxy as St. John, and the Old Testament has never enjoyed the same status as the old. I tried to explain this somewhat earlier, but I guess my explanation was a difficult one, and without an education in Canon Law it is almost impossible to understand what holds authority and what does not...as well as what you can do to increase or decrease the authority of a given work.
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« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2006, 04:33:15 AM »

Well, it's like this.  Paul was a great Christian, no doubt about it.  He started evangelizing the Gentiles, and is the main reason most of us are Christians today.  I'm not questioning that the guy was a mighty tool of God.

BUT.  My problem lies in putting his words on the same level as those of Christ's, or of God's in the Old Testament.  He was a Christian man spreading the Gospel, a vessel for the Word of God, and the message he carried was divinely inspired.  But he, himself, was just a man-how could his opinions, his writings, be divinely inspired?

When Christ spoke, every last sound He uttered was the very Word of God, whether recorded for posterity or not.  Not true with Paul.  Paul attested to Christ's power and bore witness to Him in many of his letters, and that message was inspired because it related the actions and sayings of Christ, Who was inspired.

But when Paul starts talking about how women should have long hair and men short?  When he starts getting into all those little cultural commands?  When he tells Timothy to mix a little wine in with his water?  You can't tell me that that's the divinely inspired Word of God, which unchanges and is the same for all ages.  Am I then sinning to have long hair or drink plain water?

It's not just Paul.  When I read the entire Protestant Bible, it all makes sense as one coherent narrative with one unifying doctrinal position... until I get to the epistles.  You see Paul advocating salvation by faith, and James advocating salvation by works, and neither one of these seems to fit in with the entire rest of the Biblical narrative, which seems to indicate that you are saved by having a relationship with God, not by some one-time salvation experience which you then go on to ignore the rest of your life, or by doing good deeds but never really communing with God either.

It's my opinion that these guys were great Christians, and their books are useful reading, and a lot of what they have to say is very useful, and edifying to believers.  But to consider their words, ALL of them, to be the divinely inspired Word of God, the same level as Jesus Christ's words?  No.

Is there any room in Orthodoxy for that POV?

Howdy,

Thanks for the clarification. I appreciate it.

I think what we need to first do is seperate the Holy Gospels from the Epistles of the apostles, dividing the New Testament Canon into two categories. Let's look at the Epistles first.

The Epistles have a different context in writing, and different layout. We have to understand that these are letters of St. Paul, St. Peter, etc. Within these Epistles, we find important, spirtually edifying commentary and guidance for both early Christians and Christians throughout the ages. But since they are personal letters (almost just like literature in a way), they do extend certain personal attributes (such as St. Paul extending his greetings to fellow Christians, and the sort). In the Epistles, the authors freely chose what to write on, what words to use, how to say it, etc. It is both normal literature and inspired text, since the Holy Spirit guided it.

The Gospels, on the other hand, are the literal words of Our Lord. These contain all that is needed for humanity, instructions of how to live and direct ourselves - mandated by God Incarnate.

So in a way, yes it is wrong to consider ALL of the words of the Epistles to be like the very Words of Our Lord. However, I dont see how this means that we should denigrate or think lesser of the Epistles - because like I've said, they are on the whole inspired by the Holy Spirit...written by two persons: the apostle and the Holy Spirit.

You bring up the advice St. Paul gave to Timothy, mixing in wine with water. I would just like to say that these little insertions of personal doings reinforce the reality that these Epistles are spiritual letters to actual people in the early Church. The Epistles are inspired as a whole, but we need to be able to discern what is doctrinally important to us and what is more situationally pertinent to St. Paul or the other authors of the Epistles. I'm not trying to say, however, that this sentance is more spiritually inspired than that one. Just that we need to not be crazies about it and say it is incumbent upon us to formulate a canon about mixing water with wine.  Tongue

As for cutting hair for men and growing hair for women in 1 Corinthians, I feel that youre taking this out of context and ignoring the spiritual aspects of headcovering St. Paul exhorts in that certain chapter. But that can be for another thread.

I hope that helped in some way.

Peace,
Ioannis
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« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2006, 04:28:03 PM »

Princeps, given what you've said I think you'll find the Orthodox approach to the Scriptures to be a relief.  You are not so far off actually.

As others have pointed out, "all those cultural things" do have deeper meaning, however.  In our parish, women cover our heads, and if that had not been the case I may never have had opportunity to think about the deep spiritual truths that accompany the practice.  I would have written it off as a "cultural thing" like you're doing.

Nor do the Scriptures contradict each other!  The Protestant teaching on "sola fide" and "sola gratia" has made it confusing for us when we come upon Scriptures that seem to preach a "works gospel," such as the epistle of James.  These seem to contradict each other.  But the real teaching of the church, that of man's cooperation with God in our salvation, is entirely compatible with this apparent paradox.  In many other instances, as you learn more about Orthodoxy, I think you'll find that things which never made sense before and which were hard to reconcile (another might be free will vs. election), are made much more clear by the true teaching on them preserved in Orthodoxy.  The Reformers were making it up as they went along.  It's no surprise that they got many things either wrong or simply out of focus.

Can you tell us so far what you have read about the Orthodox faith?
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« Reply #37 on: August 28, 2006, 03:12:27 AM »

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It is both normal literature and inspired text, since the Holy Spirit guided it.

Well, the Holy Spirit guides the hearts and minds of any who truly submit to God... is it in this sense that you're speaking?  The epistles would be just as inspired as, say, a priest's homily?  Or do you mean something else?

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As for cutting hair for men and growing hair for women in 1 Corinthians, I feel that youre taking this out of context and ignoring the spiritual aspects of headcovering St. Paul exhorts in that certain chapter. But that can be for another thread.

...spiritual aspects of headcovering?

I've heard nothing of this concept.  Please enlighten me.

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Princeps, given what you've said I think you'll find the Orthodox approach to the Scriptures to be a relief.  You are not so far off actually.

That's really good to know. Smiley

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But the real teaching of the church, that of man's cooperation with God in our salvation, is entirely compatible with this apparent paradox.

That seems a little hard to swallow, if you'll forgive me for my doubt.

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another might be free will vs. election

How I've handled that was ignoring what Paul had to say about predestination (since I haven't really considered his works inspired for years), which then leaves only the verses about free will.

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Can you tell us so far what you have read about the Orthodox faith?

Concerning what, the canon?

I've had my friend Chaz tell me, after long drawn-out discussions, that my views basically fit into Orthodoxy, as far as he could figure.  He told me basically what you guys are telling me now... that there's different levels of inspiration, with Jesus being the most inspired, then St. John, and then basically everything else was lumped into the "inspired" section, not just the rest of the Bible and the deuterocanonicals, but some apocryphal books, writings of the early fathers, and church councils as well.

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except for the drinking only water part...that's just plain ole' wrong, and as the Bishop of Bourbon I must condemn that (If you have any questions, read through the 'Random Posts' thread) life just ain't worth living without enjoying a good bourbon from time to time

I'm more of a whiskey fan myself... I'll go ask forgiveness now. :p
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« Reply #38 on: August 28, 2006, 01:56:53 PM »

Princeps:
Your friend would be in a better position to discern where you're at, but your statements about St. Paul are troubling.  There is no doubt that St. Paul's teaching ministry is foundational to our faith.  As I pointed out, there are Protestant errors that make some of his writings seem more difficult than they have to be, but if you have serious problems with such a large portion of the NT, you'll not find the Orthodox way easy to accept.  But you have a lot more investigating to do in order to determine this, with the help of your friend and a priest.

"Leaving only free will," for instance, opens one to Pelagianism, and that is as great an error as the extremes of Augustinian election.

I meant to ask what books you had read about Orthodoxy in general.

Regarding headcovering: I'll say briefly that it relates to the woman's role as "icon" (living representation) of the church, as well as in general a reverence before the sacraments, shown in other small but important ways in which we prepare ourselves to receive them.  Many Orthodox parishes in America have left such things as headcovering behind, but that seems a pity to me.  At any rate, I'm grateful to have ended up in a jurisdiction that has preserved the practice.
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« Reply #39 on: August 28, 2006, 11:52:58 PM »

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Princeps:
Your friend would be in a better position to discern where you're at, but your statements about St. Paul are troubling.  There is no doubt that St. Paul's teaching ministry is foundational to our faith.  As I pointed out, there are Protestant errors that make some of his writings seem more difficult than they have to be, but if you have serious problems with such a large portion of the NT, you'll not find the Orthodox way easy to accept.  But you have a lot more investigating to do in order to determine this, with the help of your friend and a priest.

Hmmm... understand that I'm used to Protestant terminology here... and for years I've been dealing with absolutes.  A piece of writing (whether a book, a chapter, or a verse) is either directly inspired by God or it isn't.  So when I say Paul isn't inspired, I'm speaking Protestant still.  It's just what I'm used to saying, and it's quicker to say "not inspired" than "carried an inspired message in works that also dealt with his personal opinions."

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"Leaving only free will," for instance, opens one to Pelagianism, and that is as great an error as the extremes of Augustinian election.

Not necessarily... the one can lead to the other, possibly, but that's not a given by any means.

I just Wikied "Pelagianism" and yeah, I don't believe that at all.  Jesus didn't just "set a good example," He redeemed us from our sins.  Which, without even getting into original sin, it's perfectly obvious to any rational person that every human being on earth is a sinner.  And it's also quite reasonable to say that we have a choice to accept or reject the forgiveness He offers.

I don't see an explanation for the presence of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, except to preserve the possibility of free will for Adam and Eve.  If they weren't physically able to disobey God, then their obedience would have been meaningless.

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I meant to ask what books you had read about Orthodoxy in general.

Oh... nothing but a bunch of Wikipedia articles and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

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Regarding headcovering: I'll say briefly that it relates to the woman's role as "icon" (living representation) of the church, as well as in general a reverence before the sacraments, shown in other small but important ways in which we prepare ourselves to receive them.  Many Orthodox parishes in America have left such things as headcovering behind, but that seems a pity to me.  At any rate, I'm grateful to have ended up in a jurisdiction that has preserved the practice.

Okay, that's cool.  I confess I'm kinda indifferent to the practice... it can happen or not, either way's fine with me.
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« Reply #40 on: August 29, 2006, 07:11:56 PM »

Hmmm... understand that I'm used to Protestant terminology here... and for years I've been dealing with absolutes.  A piece of writing (whether a book, a chapter, or a verse) is either directly inspired by God or it isn't.  So when I say Paul isn't inspired, I'm speaking Protestant still.
Ok. Smiley  This sort of dichotomizing is weird but I recognize it as a western habit.  It makes it difficult to give you a straight answer to your original question, though, as you've probably figured out by now.
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I just Wikied "Pelagianism" and yeah, I don't believe that at all.  Jesus didn't just "set a good example," He redeemed us from our sins.
I was more thinking of how God applies our salvation to us.  However, if you do believe Christ redeemed us and therefore the Holy Spirit must be active in our salvation, that's not Pelagianism, as you say.  I was thrown off by the "only" in your phrase "only free will."
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I don't see an explanation for the presence of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, except to preserve the possibility of free will for Adam and Eve.  If they weren't physically able to disobey God, then their obedience would have been meaningless.
Orthodoxy doesn't subscribe to the "total depravity" doctrine of Calvinism, either.  However I think you are thinking of the Tree of Life?  I'm not sure of the patristic interpretation here, but I see that (the angel guarding the way to the Tree of Life) as figuratively describing our mortality.  We have a certain time in which God's redemption can be accomplished in our lives, but in His goodness He doesn't let us linger on in our present existence forever:
And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."  So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. -Genesis 3:23-24
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Oh... nothing but a bunch of Wikipedia articles and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.
Bishop Kallistos Ware's works are usually a staple for those considering conversion.  There's a thread somewhere here about what books were instrumental in people's conversions, if you're interested in some recommendations.

Here's that thread:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=6610.0
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