Patriarch Bartholomew I on War

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholo...
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

War and violence are never means used by God in order to achieve a result. They are for the most part machinations of the devil used to achieve unlawful ends. We say “for the most part” because, as is well known, in a few specific cases the Orthodox Church forgives an armed defense against oppression and violence. However, as a rule, peaceful resolution of differences and peaceful cooperation are more pleasing to God and more beneficial to Amber Jewelry Tea Set humankind.

-His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

Address in Novi Sad, Serbia on October 22, 1999 Enhanced by Zemanta

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Orthodox-Catholic Commission Studies Primacy of Peter

Seems Rome is reaching out to near about everyone –

PAPHOS, Cyprus, OCT. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The International Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church has progressed in its reflection on the role of the bishop of Rome.

The commission issued a joint communiqué reporting on its progress at the end of its 11th plenary session, ended today in Paphos. The document in question is titled “The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium.”

Continue reading “Orthodox-Catholic Commission Studies Primacy of Peter”

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Church of England General Synod to debate communion with ACNA

As the TEC in Canada and the Unites States continues a steadily descent into liberalism, while maintianing that it is historically Christian, the Anglican Communion will have to face some serious descisions in the coming months. Personally, I see that the entire Anglican Communion will soon face balkanization heading into directly into liberalism, into Rome, and into Orthodoxy.

The General Synod of the Church of England is to be asked to decide whether it wants to be in communion with the newly founded Anglican Church of North America.

A Private Members Motion (PMM) was tabled at the York General Synod last Friday by lay member Lorna Ashworth calling for recognition of ACNA, which unites into a single church some 100,000 Anglicans in 700 parishes that have severed ties with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over their liberal shift.

The PMM invites Synod to “express the desire that the Church of England be in communion with the Anglican Church in North America”.

It has received 126 members’ signatures at the York General Synod, meaning that the Synod’s business committee will have to set a date for the debate when it meets in September.

The Bishops of Winchester, Ely, Europe, Rochester and Blackburn have all expressed public support for the PMM, as well as the Suffragan Bishops of Willesden, Beverley and Burnley.

Church of England General Synod to debate communion with ACNA.

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Irenaeus and Doctrinal Development – The Catholics Debate

There is a debate of interest going on in the blogosphere, and once I get a grip on it, I might contribute my thoughts on Irenaeus. This debate interests me for several reasons:

I will not post the entire debate, but snippets. I hope that you click the links and read them.

Start here:

Since Catholicism takes for granted that there is such a thing as authentic DD, the question is really whether Orthodoxy can also accept the idea. Notice that I did not pose the issue as whether there is such a thing as DD simpliciter. I take for granted that there is, or has been, in each of the three major Christian traditions. So did the late, great Jaroslav Pelikan, convert from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy, among whose works I’ve found profitable are Development of Christian Doctrine: Some Historical Prolegomena; and his five-volume The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine. To my knowledge, Pelikan never disputed the very idea of authentic DD after his conversion to Orthodoxy; and certain Orthodox thinkers in America today, such as Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon and Prof. David Hart, also accept authentic DD in some sense.

Then you notice the comment thread and read this:

Prior to Sts. Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure is more like it. That happens all the time. St. Irenaeus’s chiliastic view needs to be corrected by the Alexandrian tradition; St. Justin Martyr’s subordinationism, by the ecumenical councils.

Then go here:

When I last devoted a post to an Orthodox take on DD, I did so in response to several of my Orthodox readers who recommended an essay by Fr. Andrew Louth entitled “Is Development of Doctrine a Valid Category for Orthodox Theology?”, written for the recent Pelikan festschrift. Unsurprisingly, Louth’s answer was “no.” But in my post, I analyzed Louth’s arguments and concluded that he was conceding substantively what he was rejecting verbally—i.e., that authentic DD has occurred in a sense now recognized not only by the Catholic Church but, I maintain, by some Orthodox thinkers such as Pelikan himself. I had been prepared to reach such an odd conclusion by the blowback I had got, privately and publicly, from criticizing the well-known Orthodox pastor Fr. Patrick Reardon for rejecting DD. Eventually I felt obliged to concede that Reardon, and perhaps some other Orthodox thinkers, are willing to admit “authentic DD” in some meaty sense of that term. But I also had to recognize that other Orthodox thinkers, such as Louth and Behr, deny that they themselves do. In this respect, the dissensus within Orthodoxy reminds me of its dissensus on other matters, such as ecclesiology. But it is not for me to criticize Orthodoxy for such dissensus; after all, in the Catholic Church we have the Magisterium, which rightly exists to minimize doctrinal dissensus and does so de jure, but often does not de facto. My aim is far narrower and more useful: to criticize arguments against the possibility of authentic DD, so that the parties on all sides might become more able and willing to get clear with each other about what the fact of authentic DD actually consists in.

Also, check out this link. Further, from the above post,

Here’s the nub of Behr’s argument:

If tradition is essentially the right interpretation of Scripture, then it cannot change — and this means, it can neither grow nor develop. A tradition with a potential for growth ultimately undermines the Gospel itself — it leaves open the possibility for further revelation, and therefore the Gospel would no longer be sure and certain. If our faith is one and the same as that of the apostles, then, as Irenaeus claimed, it is equally immune from improvement by articulate or speculative thinkers as well as from diminution by inarticulate believers (Against the Heresies, 1.10.2). We must take seriously the famous saying of St. Vincent of Lerins: “We must hold what has been believed everywhere, always and by all” (Commonitorium, 2).

From an Orthodox perspective, there simply is, therefore, no such thing as dogmatic development. What there is, of course, is ever new, more detailed and comprehensive explanations elaborated in defense of one and the same faith — responding, each time, to a particular context, a particular controversy etc. But it is one and the same faith that has been believed from the beginning — the continuity of the correct interpretation of Scripture. And for this reason, the Councils, as Fr. John Meyendorff pointed out , never formally endorsed any aspect of theology as dogma which is not a direct (and correct) interpretation of the history of God described in Scripture: only those aspects were defined as dogma which pertain directly to the Gospel. So, for instance, the only aspect pertaining to the Virgin Mary that was ever recognized as dogma is that she is Theotokos — “Mother of God” — for she gave birth to our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ — it is something which pertains to the Incarnation, rather than to Mary herself. Whilst individual theologians have speculated about other aspects concerning the Virgin herself, and her glorification, items not directly pertaining to the Gospel of Christ’s work of salvation, such as the Assumption and the Immaculate conception, have never been held to have the status of dogma in the Orthodox Church.

Nest, this post,

In just this respect, Irenaeus was the first major contributor to what I call “meta-doctrine,” i.e. the development of doctrine about doctrine. As far as we know, he was the first theologian to argue explicitly that the “true doctrine,” the orthodox faith, was that which was received, held and professed publicly and in common by the communion of churches led by those who enjoyed a publicly verifiable apostolic succession. Given that kind of succession, the only reasonable conclusion was that there was no esoteric “tradition” or “knowledge” or “Scriptures” whose import was contrary to that claimed by the official leaders of the Church. And that is just what we would expect if, as the Catholic Church has always insisted, divine revelation was given publicly to all for the salvation of all.

Then you have this post:

I’m struck by how scandalized John is by the Catholic Church’s developed understanding of her own teaching authority. And let us make no mistake: the claims of Rome have been a scandal to many for over a millennium. For some, the scandal has only been exacerbated by the assertion of the ecumenically-minded Second Vatican Council that “…the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ” (Dei Verbum §10). As a Catholic, I imagine the scandal to be rather similar to that which Peter afforded many educated Jews of his time. But I must now address Ioannes.

And finally,

To deny that dogma is demonstrable from scripture would seem to betray a lack of confidence itself an anomaly to the great tradition. As I have told you before, I consider the word ‘deduction’ problematic because of its connotations, not because I find it ridiculous to speak of teachings which follow of necessity from scripture. When heretics challenged the claim that the orthodox doctrines were those of the apostles, the fathers refuted them by showing whence their doctrines came. When heretics read their own teachings into scripture, the fathers pointed out how those teachings made scripture incoherent. Orthodoxy to them was inevitable. It cannot be avoided if we are to keep the whole picture as painted by the apostles intact. Yet on your view it seems orthodoxy can be avoided, or at least dodged on the field in which the battles used to be waged. The fathers’ scriptural arguments did not establish their teachings but merely suggested a probability in their favor. Since this probability or reasonableness is subjectively evaluated, the heretics could disagree and appeal to their different interpretative standards. And so it was to no real end for St Irenaeus to “revert,” as he does in the latter part of book three of AH, “to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles who did also write the Gospel, in which they recorded the doctrine regarding God.” Indeed, not only is scriptural proof unnecessary, but the attempt to provide it would be futile. In that court Irenaeus could never make his case sure beyond a reasonable doubt. The meaning of scripture is conditioned not on its own inherent intelligibility but on who does the interpreting. Thus Irenaeus wasted his time offering exegetical arguments–which is a shame, since he could have used that time to make more explicit the teaching authority whose proper place in his argument he failed to grasp, not elucidating it sufficiently. He did not realize that the charism which resides in the objective tradition does not only operate through the bishops but in fact resides in them, too, much as it would reside later in Pio Nono, enabling him to say, as the story goes (and se non è vero, è ben trovato), ‘I am the tradition’. Irenaeus the bishop should have anticipated that stroke of logic, throwing out the future pope’s slogan against his opponents, who would have been left manifestly jostling around in the realm of opinion, confined therein by the incarnated charismatic authority which both guarded and, more than that, as its uniquely capable interpreter, was part of the deposit of faith.

Although this may be just a deposit of material for myself, I encourage you to read the thoughts of Doctrinal Development and weigh the theory against Scripture. Are we allowed to develop doctrine beyond that of the Apostles or to use non-biblical concepts in doctrine?

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Orthodox Study Bible – Review

From Amazon:

Features Include:

  • Old Testament newly translated from the Greek text of the Septuagint, including the Deuterocanon
  • New Testament from the New King James Version
  • Commentary drawn from the early Church Christians
  • Easy-to-Locate liturgical readings
  • Book Introductions and Outlines
  • Subject Index
  • Full-color Icons
  • Full-color Maps

My review:

Not being Orthodox myself (although maybe orthodox), I became interested in this translation for two reasons:

  • It was a ‘new’ translation of the Septuagint, which I have become a student of.
  • It was the first viable English bible to include both the Septuagint and the New Testament – both Greek Testaments into English in one bible

Late last year, I received the New English Translation the Septuagint, but alas, it was difficult to carry two bibles to Church, so when I heard of this one coming out, I was excited, and I have not been disappointed. Not only did it have the distinction of having both (Greek) testaments in one bible, but it included the Deuterocanon along with notes that introduce people to various ‘Church Fathers’ up to the Great Schism. Plus, unlike the NETS, the Orthodox Study Bible (published by Thomas Nelson) is publicly readable, with less stilted language.

For the Septuagint, the Committee used Rahlf’s critical edition of the Greek text, which is what the NETS used, however, they further used Brenton’s 1851 translation and the New King James Translation as a backdrop. They readily used the NKJV in places where the Hebrew and the Greek matched. They did, however, use the canonical order of the Old Testament According to the Seventy, first published in 1928. Of course, using the Septuagint creates problems for those who have constantly read the English translation of the Hebrew, especially in the Psalms and Jeremiah. Few Christians outside of the Orthodox tradition, or scholarly field, know that at times there is, at times, a great difference between the text of the Septuagint (LXX) and the Hebrew (MT).  The OSB helps by providing a chart of the differences in chapters and verses.

It uses NKJV renderings where the Masoretic text of the Hebrew is the same as the LXX text, much like the NETS uses the NRSV for an air of familiarity. (It should be remembered the NKJV has faced criticism for the stilted language.) The introduction states that “he Old Testament text presented in this volume does not claim to be a new or superior translation.  The goal was to produce a text to meet the Bible-reading needs of English-speaking Orthodox Christians.” The New Testament is taken from the New King James Version (NKJV), and like other NKJV’s, the variant readings are listing in the footnotes. They have succeeded on this and in providing the LXX to English speaking Christians familiar with the language of the KJV, NKJV, and the RSV; however, the Orthodox may not be so forgiving.

The use of the TR Greek is defended on the grounds that the underlying Greek text of the New Testament in the King James Version is closer to the traditional Byzantine text than that of modern critical editions. This is, for the most part, true. The editors attempt to use scientific methods in determining this, while ignoring that for the Orthodox, Scriptures come from the Church, so no explanation is needed. The section of the opening chapter, pages x and xi, which discusses the choice of text, is in fact nothing more than a slightly revised version of the preface to the Revised Authorized Version, pages vi and vii. This undercuts the Orthodox’s position of the Church as the stay of the Scriptures.

The inclusion of the Deuterocanon does not include, as the NETS does, the Psalms of Salomon which is actually referenced/contained in the Codex Alexandrinus. While I am not here to debate the canonicity of certain books, it would have been nice to have that book included in this Translation, as the representation of this book in the ancient Codex proves that someone once continued it at least near canonical, or readable. The Deuterocanon, unlike other bible versions, are printed in the canonical order of the East. Whereas the King James Version (KJV), and subsequent (Protestant) Bible versions places them in a separate section between the two Testaments.

One of the issues that I have with the Greek used in the OSB is that it does not provide for the chance to compare the recensions. It appears that the Revised Standard Version was the boilerplate for the Deuterocanon; the RSV used the shorter text. The NETS – again, meant to be the scholarly translation of the LXX – actually provides translations of both texts in parallel, as it does for the case of all such divergent texts in the Septuagint tradition: in Iesous (Joshua), Judges, Esther (giving the Old Greek and the Alpha text,) Tobit (the GII and GI texts), Sousanna, Daniel, Bel and the Dragon (all three have both Old Greek and Theodotion).

The Committee also offers a general overview of the books as well as an introduction to the Orthodox Church. I am not going to provide an answer to their assumption of continuation from the Apostles and Acts, but it is nice to have within this bible brief doctrines and explanations of the Orthodox Church. In their Introduction, the speak about Doctrine, Worship, Government, the disagreements between the West and the East, the Great Schism, Further Divisions and the modern Orthodox Church. This is not a slight against the Committee, but the history provided in these sections is often shallow and muddy; however, it is not the Committee’s mission to provide Doctoral Thesis of Orthodox History, merely to peak the interest of the reader. And in this mission, this Bible serves well.

The book overviews and is easy enough to follow, again, not giving deep insight, but pointing to the Traditions positions on the book. As with any Study Bible, the OSB have footnotes throughout, but more often than not, it refers to an ancient writer, such as John Chrysostom or Vincent of Lerins, and many others. This serves the purpose well of pointing to a long history of the Orthodox, filled with commentators on every subject and every book. Of course, like all other denominationally based Study Bibles, the doctrines of the Orthodox Church are held up throughout. From the very beginning, the Trinity is pointed out, which is their primary goal as listed on the cover flap.

Interspersed throughout the translation are introduction to specific doctrines as held by the Orthodox Church. Of those doctrines that Protestants have a difficult time understanding, myself included, is Deification. According to many fundamentalist apologist, Orthodox Deification is the process of becoming a god. Instead, the OSB says that it the process of Christians becoming more like God, or as Peter says in 1.3, partaking in the divine nature. Although I am not in complete agreement with the terminology, I can understand the idea of a progression of the Christian to become more holy. This is just one example of the many areas in which the Study Bible serves to create a communication bridge with the Orthodox Church.

The quality of the bible is fair, but may present a problem in the future. I am pretty rough with mine, because it gets a lot of use. I am almost afraid to touch the pages as they are extremely thin. Another thing is the lack of cross references. I don’t really use them, but I do know of more than a few that do. This bible does not have any, which may be a turn off.

Another issue with the Bible is the commentary – it provides a great deal, but equally lacks a great deal. John Chrysostom, who could bridge the East-West divide is sorely underused as is Augustine, who could provide a bridge to the Reformed protestants. Now, it is understandable that Patristic commentary on, several of the books may be scarce (Esther, Nehemiah, etc…) , but the lack of commentary on the theological passages (such as Baptism, Godhead, Mary, Church, Pre-destination) is nearly unforgivable. Let me note, however, that having a study Bible which is unapologetically Christological in the interpretation of the Old Testament makes for a nice change and suits me fine.

Of the issues that an Orthodox might find with this bible is that although the Editors promise to use the voices of first Millenium, there are some notable excepts. We find Gregory Palamas (1296 – 1359) and Seraphim of Sarov (1759-1833) mentioned as voices, although Seraphim is not used in the notes. Further, we have to note the use of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theordoret who were condemned as Nestorians at the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

One of the goals of this bible is to introduce the Orthodox Church to Protestants, and it does that. If you take it in that light, then the OSB accomplished more than it set out to do; however, I can hardly imagine an Orthodox being soundly happy with this bible.

Overall, the Orthodox Study Bible is a good choice; I can see it replacing several of my favorites as my bible of choice. It provides for a complete Greek to English translation of the Bible (even if flawed at places) as well as commentary from voices millennia in the past. For me, that is essential when it comes to reading the early Christian writers – Ignatius, Polycarp, Clement of Rome – who had nothing for the Old Greek.

I hope that this is not the last edition of this bible that we see, with a hope that the editors and publishers work together to fix some of the flaws.

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Mary Unites Christians, Cardinal Tells Anglicans

ZENIT – Mary Unites Christians, Cardinal Tells Anglicans.

By Inmaculada Álvarez

LOURDES, France, SEPT. 25, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Devotion to the Virgin Mary has an essential role in ecumenical dialogue and the journey to full and visible unity among Christians, says the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Cardinal Walter Kasper affirmed this Wednesday when he presided over an ecumenical celebration in Lourdes, where Anglicans and Catholics had joined on pilgrimage. Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury gave the homily at the event. The pilgrimage began at the Anglican shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in England.

“Lourdes is known for its miracles,” Cardinal Kasper said. “Who would have imagined, only 20 or 30 years ago, that Catholics and Anglicans would go on pilgrimage and pray together?

“For those who are familiar with the debates and controversies of the past on Mary, between Catholics and non-Catholic Christians, for those who know the reservations of the non-Catholic world toward Marian pilgrimage sites, for all these people, today’s unprecedented event is a miracle.”

The cardinal contended that, in fact, Mary is an essential part of the ecumenical movement, though this topic “is neither common nor obvious among ecumenists.”

Continue reading “Mary Unites Christians, Cardinal Tells Anglicans”

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Book Review – Orthodox Study Bible

Not being Orthodox myself (although maybe orthodox), I became interested in this translation for two reasons:

  1. It was a ‘new’ translation of the Septuagint, which I have become a student of.
  2. It was the first English bible that I know of to include both the Septuagint and the New Testament.

Late last year, I received the New English Translation the Septuagint, but alas, it was difficult to carry two bibles to Church, so when I heard of this one coming out, I was excited, and I have not been disappointed. Not only did it have the distinction of having both (Greek) testaments in one bible, but it included the Deuterocanon along with notes that introduces people to various ‘Church Fathers’ up till the Great Schism. Plus, unlike the NETS, the OSB is publicly readable.

For the Septuagint, the Committee used Rahlfs critical edition of the Greek text, which is what the NETS used, however, they further used Brenton’s 1851 translation and the New King James Translation as a backdrop. They readily used the NKJV in places where the Hebrew and the Greek matched. They did, however, use the canonical order (which is a reminder that the order of the canon varies from Tradition to Tradition, time to time, and even Faith to Faith) of the Old Testament According to the Seventy, first published in 1928. Of course, using the Septuagint creates problems for those who have constantly read the English translation of the Hebrew, especially in the Psalms and Jeremiah.

The inclusion of the Deuterocanon (which foreign only to Protestants after 1830) does not include, as the NETS does, the Psalms of Solomon which is actually reference/contained the Codex Alexandrinus. While I am not here to debate the canonicity of certain books, it would have been nice to have that book included in this Translation. The Deuterocanon, unlike other bible versions, are printed in the canonical order. Where as the King James Version (KJV) places them in a separate section between the two Testaments (giving the reader the notion that somehow the First Covenant ended, people wrote a lot of books and the the Second Convenant began with Matthew).

The New Testament is taken from the New King James Version (NKJV), although like other NKJV’s, the variant readings are listing in the footnotes. I have no real issue here, believing that this will help others to actually buy the bible and give it a fair shake. For me, it allows me to keep the bible in hand during service instead of switching to my Cambridge for the New Testament. This also provides a measure of consistency in quotations between the Old and New, now that the Septuagint is in English along side the New Testament. Many bible students know that the Septuagint was the bible of the Apostles and the primitive Church.

The Committee also offers a general overview of the books as well as an introduction to the Orthodox Church. I am not going to provide an answer to their assumption of continuation from the Apostles and Acts, but it is nice to have within this bible brief doctrines and explanations of the Orthodox Church. In there Introduction, the speak about Doctrine, Worship, Government, the disagreements between the West and the East, the Great Schism, Further Divisions and the modern Orthodox Church. This is not a slight against the Committee, but the history provided in these sections is often shallow and muddy; however, it is not the Committee’s mission to provide Doctoral Thesis of Orthodox History, merely to perk the interest of the reader. And in this mission, it this Bible serves well.

The book overviews and easy enough to follow, again, not giving deep insight, but pointing to the Traditions positions on the book. As with any Study Bible, the OSB have footnotes throughout, but more often than not, it refers to an ancient writer, such as John Chrysostom or Vincent of Lerins, and many others. This serves the purpose well of pointing to a long history of the Orthodox, filled with commentators on every subject and every book. Of course, like all other denominationally based Study Bibles, the doctrines of the Orthodox Church is held up throughout. From the very beginning, the Trinity is pointed out. (Although, dear readers, you know that I would disagree with that position).

Interspersed throughout the translation are introduction to specific doctrines as held by the Orthodox Church. Of those doctrines that Protestants have a difficult time understanding, myself included, is Deification. According to many fundamentalist apologist, Orthodox Deification is the process of becoming a god. Instead, the OSB says that it the process of Christians becoming more like God, or as Peter says in 1.3, partaking in the divine nature. Although I am not incomplete agreement with the terminology, I can understand that idea of a progression of the Christian to become more holy. This is just one example of the many areas in which the Study Bible serves to create a communication bridge with the Orthodox Church world.

One the things that I do not like is the quality of the bible. I am pretty rough with mine, because it gets a lot of use. I am almost afraid to touch the pages as they are extremely thin. Another thing is the lack of cross references. I don’t really use them, but I do know of more than a few that do. This bible does not have any.

Overall, the OSB serves as a sturdy companion to myself. I appreciate the fact that finally I have a compete Greek to English Bible with the Deuterocanon as well as insights into minds 1000 years ago.

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