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The Orthodox Study Bible - Introduction and the Book of James - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. The FIRST EVER. Editorial Reviews. From the Back Cover. This is the only resource Bible written with study aids and articles written from an Orthodox Christian perspective- the. We would like to thank you for your interest in The Orthodox Study Bible, and offer you a free download of the Orthodox Study Bible reading plan and a free.
Midway through the first century, a dispute had arisen in Antioch over adherence to Old Testament laws. The matter could not be settled there; outside help was needed.
The leaders of the Antiochian Church, the community which had earlier dispatched Paul and Barnabas as missionaries, brought the matter to Jerusalem for consideration by the apostles and elders there.
The matter was discussed, debated, and a written decision was forthcoming. It was James, the brother of the Lord and the first bishop of Jerusalem, who put forth the solution to the problem. This settlement, agreed to by all concerned at what is known as the Council of Jerusalem Acts Thus, throughout the history of the Church we find scores of such councils, and on various levels, to settle matters of dispute and to deal with those who do not adhere to the Apostolic faith.
The first three hundred years of Christian history were marked by the appearance of certain heresies or false teachings such as secret philosophic schemes for the elite Gnosticism , dazzling prophetic aberrations Montanism , and grave errors regarding the three Persons of the Trinity Sabellianism. Then, in the early fourth century, a heresy with potential for Church-wide disruption appeared, propagated by one Arius, a presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt.
He denied the eternality of the Son of God, claiming contrary to the apostles doctrine that the Son was a created being who came into existence at a point in time and thus was not truly God.
This deadly error struck the Church like a cancer. Turmoil spread almost everywhere. Some bishops, along with many priests, deacons and laymen rejected the new teaching of Arius and his associates, upholding the apostles doctrine of Christ, affirming the eternality of the Son and His consubstantiality with the Father. Their proclamation of the Apostolic teaching concerning Christ included a creed, which, with the additions concerning the Holy Spirit made in at the Council of Constantinople, forms the document we today call the Nicene Creed.
Between the years and , seven such Church-wide conclaves were held, all dealing first and foremost with some specific challenge to the Apostolic teaching about Jesus Christ.
For the first thousand years of Christian history, the entire Church, save for the heretics, embraced and defended the New Testament Apostolic faith. There was no consequential division. And this one faith, preserved through all trials, attacks and tests, this Apostolic doctrine, was called the Orthodox faith. Doctrinal purity was tenaciously maintained. But true Christianity is far more than adherence to a set of correct beliefs alone. It was Jesus Himself Who told the woman at the well, the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him Jn 4: At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, the communion service, when He took bread and wine, gave a blessing, and said to His disciples, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me and This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you Lk From such first and second century sources as the Didache, the letters of St.
Ignatius of Antioch, and St. Justin Martyr, we are assured the Eucharist is the very center of Christian worship from the Apostolic era on. And just as the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets were read in the Temple worship and the synagogue in Israel, so the Church also immediately gave high priority to the public reading of Scripture and to preaching in her worship, along with the Eucharistic meal.
Orthodox Study Bible
Even before the middle of the first century, Christian worship was known by the term liturgy which literally means the common work or the work of the people. The early liturgy of the Churchs worship was composed of two essential parts, 1 the liturgy of the word, including hymns, Scripture reading, and preaching and 2 the liturgy of the faithful, composed of intercessory prayers, the kiss of peace, and the Eucharist. From virtually the beginning, Christian worship has had a definable shape or form which continues to this day.
Modern Christians advocating freedom from liturgy in worship are usually shocked to learn that spontaneity was never the practice in the ancient Church! A basic pattern or shape of Christian worship was observed from the start.
And as the Church grew and matured, liturgy matured as well. Hymns, Scripture readings, and prayers were intertwined in the basic foundation. A clear, purposeful procession through the year, marking and joining in word, song, and praise the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ, and sancitfying crucial aspects of Christian life and experience, was forthcoming.
The Christian life was lived in reality in the worship of the Church. Far from being routine, the worship of the historic Church participated in the unfolding drama of the richness and mystery of the Gospel itself! Further, specific landmarks in our salvation and walk with Christ were celebrated and sanctified.
Baptism and the anointing with oil, or chrismation, were there from the start. Marriage, healing, confession of sin, and ordination to the ministry of the Gospel are other early rites in the Church.
On each of these occasions Christians understood, in a great mystery, grace and power from God were being given according to the individual need of each person. The Church saw these events as holy moments in her life and called them mysteries or sacraments. No one seriously questions whether the apostles of Christ led the Church at her beginning.
They had been given the commission to preach the Gospel Mt Theirs was by no means a preaching-only mission! They built the Church itself under Christs headship. To govern it, three definite and permanent offices, as taught in the New Testament, were in evidence. The office of bishop. The apostles themselves were the first bishops in the Church.
Even before Pentecost, after Judas had turned traitor, Peter declared in applying Psalm The word bishopric refers, of course, to the office of bishop and its use indicates the apostles themselves are bishops. Some have mistakenly argued the office of bishop was a later invention. Quite to the contrary, the apostles were themselves bishops, and they appointed bishops to succeed them to oversee the Church in each locality.
Occasionally, the objection is still heard that the office of bishop and presbyter were originally identical. The terms are used interchangeably in the New Testament while the apostles were present, the bishop being the presiding elder in a local church.
But after the apostles deaths, the offices of bishop and presbyter soon became distinct throughout the Church. Ignatius of Antioch, consecrated bishop by AD 70 in the Church from which Paul and Barnabas had been sent out, writes just after the turn of the century that bishops appointed by the apostles, surrounded by their presbyters, were everywhere in the Church.
The office of presbyter. Elders or presbyters are mentioned very early in the life of the Church in Acts and the Epistles. It is evident that in each place a Christian community developed, elders were appointed by the apostles to pastor the people.
As time passed, presbyters were referred to in the short form of the word as prests, then as priests, in full view of the fact that the Old Covenant priesthood had been fulfilled in Christ and that the Church is corporately a priesthood of believers. The priest was not understood as an intermediary between God and the people nor as a dispenser of grace. It was the role of the priest to be the presence of Christ in the Christian community.
And in the very. The office of deacon. The third order or office in the government of the New Testament Church was the deacon.
At first the apostles fulfilled this office themselves.
But with the rapid growth of the Church, seven initial deacons were selected Acts 6: It was one of these deacons, Stephen, who became the first martyr of the Church. Through the centuries, the deacons have not only served the material needs of the Church, but have held a key role in the liturgical life of the Church as well.
Often called the eyes and ears of the bishop, many deacons have become priests and ultimately entered the episcopal office. The authority of the bishop, presbyter, and deacon was not anciently understood as being apart from the people, but always from among the people. In turn the people of God were called to submit to those who ruled over them Heb On a number of occasions in history, that Amen was not forthcoming, and the bishops of the Church took note and changed course.
Later in history, many Church leaders departed from the ancient model and usurped authority for themselves. In the minds of some this brought the ancient model into question. But the problem was not in the model but in the deviation from it. It should also be mentioned that it was out of the ministry and life of the apostles that the people of God, the laity, were established in the Church. Far from being a herd of observers, the laity are vital in the effectiveness of the Church. They are the recipients and active users of the gifts and grace of the Spirit.
Each of the laity has a role in the life and function of the Church. Each is to supply something to the whole 1Co And it is the responsibility of the bishops, the priests, and the deacons to be sure that this is a reality for the laity.
The worship of the Church at the close of its first years had substantially the same shape from place to place. The doctrine was the same. The whole Church confessed one creed, the same in every place, and had weathered many attacks. The government of the Church was recognizably one everywhere. And this One Church was the Orthodox Church. While numerous doctrinal, political, economic, and cultural factors were working to separate the Church in an East-West division, two giant divisive issues ultimately emerged above others: The Papacy: Among the Twelve, Saint Peter was early acknowledged as the leader.
He was spokesman for the Twelve before and after Pentecost. He was the first bishop of Antioch and later bishop of Rome. No one challenged his role. After the death of the apostles, as leadership in the Church developed, the bishop of Rome came to be recognized as first in honor, even though all bishops were equals.
But after nearly years, the bishop of Rome slowly began to assume to himself a role of superiority over the others, ultimately claiming to be the only true successor to Peter. The vast majority of the other bishops of the Church never questioned Romes primacy of honor, but they patently rejected the Roman bishops claim as the universal head of the Church on earth. This assumption of papal power became one major factor in rending the Roman Church, and all those it could gather with it, from the historic Orthodox Church.
The Addition to the Creed: A disagreement concerning the Holy Spirit also began to develop in the Church. Does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father? Or, does He proceed from the Father and the Son? This is the basic statement in all the New Testament about the Holy Spirit proceeding, and it is clear: He proceeds from the Father. Thus, when the ancient council at Constantinople in AD reaffirmed the Creed of Nicea AD , it expanded that Creed to proclaim these familiar words: But two hundred years later, at a local council in Toledo, Spain AD , King Reccared declared, the Holy Spirit also should be confessed by us and taught to proceed from the Father and the Son.
The King may have meant well, but he was contradicting Jesus teaching, confessed by the entire Church, concerning the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, that local Spanish council agreed with his error.
Because of the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, believed by the Church at Nicea and at Constantinople and for centuries beyond, there is no reason to believe anything other than that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. But centuries later, in what was at least partially a politically motivated move, the Pope of Rome unilaterally changed the universal creed of the Church without an ecumenical council.
Though this change was initially rejected in both East and West, even by some of Romes closest neighboring bishops, the Pope managed to eventually get the West to capitulate.
The consequence, of course, in the Western Church has been the tendency to relegate the Holy Spirit to a lesser place than God the Father and God the Son. The change may appear small, but the consequences have proven disastrously immense. This issue, with the Pope departing from the Orthodox doctrine of the Church, became another instrumental cause separating the Roman Church from the historic Orthodox Church, the New Testament Church.
The Pope even went so far as to claim the authority to decide who should be the bishop of Constantinople, in marked violation of historical precedent. No longer operating within the government of the New Testament Church, the Pope appeared to be seeking by political means to bring the whole Church under his domination. Bizarre intrigues followed, one upon the other, as a series of Roman popes pursued this unswerving goal of attempting to control all Christendom.
Perhaps the most incredible incident of these political, religious, and even military schemes occurred in the year A Cardinal, sent by the Pope, slapped a document on the altar of the Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople during the Sunday worship, excommunicating the Patriarch of Constantinople from the Church! The Pope, of course, had no legitimate right to do this.
But the repercussions were staggering. Some dismal chapters of Church history were written during the next decades. The ultimate consequence of the Popes action was that the whole Roman Catholic Church ended up dividing itself from the New Testament faith of Orthodox Christianity. The schism has never been healed. As the centuries passed conflict continued. Attempts at union failed and the Roman Church drifted farther and farther from its historic roots. There are inevitable consequences in deviating from the Church.
The breaking away of Rome from the historic Orthodox Church would prove no exception. The East maintained the full stream of New Testament. The Western or Roman Church, crippled because of its schism from the Orthodox Church, bogged down in many complex problems. Then, less than five centuries after Rome committed itself to its unilateral alteration of doctrine and practice, another upheaval was festeringthis time not next door to the East, but inside the Western gates themselves.
Though many in the West had spoken out against Roman domination and practice in earlier years, now a little-known German monk named Martin Luther inadvertently launched an attack against certain Roman Catholic practices which ended up affecting world history. In a short time those theses were signalling the start of what came to be called in the West the Protestant Reformation. Luther sought an audience with the Pope but was denied, and in he was excommunicated from the Roman Church.
He had intended no break with Rome. Its papal system of government, heavy with authority, refused conciliation. The door to future unity in the West slammed shut with a resounding crash. The protests of Luther were not unnoticed. Fueled by complex political, social, and economic factors, in addition to religious problems, the Reformation spread like a raging fire into virtually every nook and cranny of the Roman Church.
The ecclesiastical monopoly to which it had grown accustomed was greatly diminished, and massive division replaced its artificial unity. The ripple effect of that division impacts even our own day as the Protestant movement itself continues to split and shatter.
If trouble on the continent were not trouble enough, the Church of England was in the process of going its own way as well. For only a few short years would the Pope ever again have ascendency in England. And the English Church itself would soon experience great division. As decade followed decade in the West, the many branches of Protestantism took various forms. There were even divisions that insisted they were neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic.
All seemed to share a mutual dislike for the Bishop of Rome and the practice of his Church, and most wanted far less centralized forms of leadership. While some, such as the Lutherans and Anglicans, held on to certain forms of liturgy and sacrament, others, such as the Reformed Churches and the even more radical Anabaptists and their descendants, questioned and rejected many biblical ideas of hierarchy, sacrament, historic tradition, and other elements of Christian practice, no matter when and where they appeared in history, thinking they were freeing themselves of Roman Catholicism.
The Orthodox study Bible : New Testament and Psalms, New King James version
To this day, many sincere, modern, professing Christians will reject even the biblical data which speaks of historic Christian practice, simply because they think such historic practices are Roman Catholic. To use the old adage, they threw the baby out with the bathwater without even being aware of it.
Thus, while retaining, in varying degrees, portions of foundational Christianity, neither Protestantism nor Catholicism can lay historic claim to being the true New Testament Church. In the divisions of the Reformation, the Protestantsas well-meaning as they might have beenfailed to return to the New Testament Church. Admittedly, the style of Orthodoxy looks complicated to the modern Protestant eye, and understandably so.
But given an historical understanding of how the Church has progressed, it may be seen that the simple. Christ-centered faith of the apostles is fully preserved in its doctrines, practices, services, and even in its architecture.
In Orthodoxy today, as in years gone by, the basics of Christian doctrine, worship, and government are never up for alteration. One cannot be an Orthodox priest, for example, and reject the divinity of Christ, His virgin birth, resurrection, ascension into heaven, and second coming.
The Church simply has not left its course in nearly years. It is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. It is the New Testament Church. The gates of hell have not prevailed against it. But Orthodoxy is also, in the words of one of her bishops, the best kept secret in America.
Though there are more than million Orthodox Christians in the world today, many in the West are not familiar with the Church. In North America, for example, the Orthodox Church has, until recently, been largely restricted to ethnic boundaries, not spreading much beyond the parishes of the committed immigrants that brought the Church to the shores of this continent.
People have begun to find Orthodox Christianity both through the writings of the early Church Fathers, and through the humble witness of contemporary Orthodox Christians. Significant numbers of evangelicals, Episcopalians and mainline Protestants are becoming Orthodox. And Orthodox student groups are springing up on campuses worldwide. The word is getting out. What, then, is the Orthodox Church? Her history can be traced in unbroken continuity all the way back to Christ and His Twelve apostles.
And what is it thats missing in the non-Orthodox Churcheseven the best of them?
Being in the Church does not guarantee all those in it will take advantage of the fullness of the faith. But the fullness of the faith is there for those who do.
The Orthodox Study Bible - Introduction and the Book of James
For persons who seriously desire the fullness of Orthodox Christianity, action must be taken. There must be a return to this Church of the New Testament. Being aware of this ancient Church is not enough. In our time people have had ample opportunity to investigate and decide about the Roman Catholic faith, the Baptist, the Lutheran, and so on. But relatively few have taken a serious look at the Orthodox Church.
Three specific suggestions will provide those interested with a tangible means of becoming acquainted with Orthodox Christianity on a personal basis. Ask the whereabouts of the nearest Orthodox parish. Pay a visitseveral visits.
Meet the priest, and ask him to help you study and learn. And be prepared to exercise patiencesometimes a portion of the Liturgy is not in English! But the Service Book in the pew will help. There are a number of books and periodicals immensely helpful to people seeking to learn about the Orthodox Church.
Gillquist, Divine Energy by Jon E. The people at Conciliar Press P. Send your name and address, with a request for information. In a day when Christians are realizing anew the centrality and importance of worship, of the Church as the body of Christ, and the need to preserve true Christian faith, the doors of.
Orthodoxy are open wide.
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The invitation is extended to come and see. Examine her faith, her worship, her history, her commitment to Christ, her love for God the Father, her communion with the Holy Spirit.
For two thousand years the Orthodox Church has by Gods mercy kept the faith delivered once for all to the saints. Within her walls is the fullness of the salvation which was realized when God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life Jn 3: Early Church tradition ascribes this letter to James, the brother or kinsman of our Lord and first bishop of Jerusalem, known as James the Just.
This is an early polemic against invisible religion, wherein salvation by faith has no visible works, and against antinomianism, the teaching that moral behavior is irrelevant to salvation. James is clear: Though James was a Jewish Christian and assumes the recipients are familiar with the Old Testament, the letter is written in elegant Greek.
There is no indication that it addresses only Jewish Christians. The people James addresses are experiencing various trials: James uses his authority as bishop to rekindle true living faith and encourage repentance, patience, and self-control.
Greeting 1: Trials and Endurance: Love God! Faith and Works: Love Your Neighbor! The Power of the Tongue 3: Quarreling and Humility 4: Greed Versus Contentedness 4: Healing and Restoration 5: So the rich man also Greetings. For the Jews, God is the only ruler, and true honor comes from Him. Scattered abroad Gr. The issue is not trials but our response to them. Properly received, trials reveal where our hearts are.
They are food for faith, which must grow or die. The godly reaction to trials is joy and perseverance Mt 5: Though unkind circumstances are from the evil one, to get angry at circumstances is to get angry at God, who permits them. While James loves Gods law, for him faith is not found in rules, as with the Pharisees, but in a relationship with God. We need an unquestioning loyalty to God along with the confidence that comes from a life stable in all its ways v.
While James teaches the necessity of works, for him works demonstrate a living faith. By contrast, doubting v. Double-mindedness v. Such unstable life deadens our conscience and turns us aside from the truth. The lowly v. The rich v.
They reveal whether or not we are prepared for heaven see 1Co 9: He now turns to inward temptations, which deceive us and lead us into sin. God tries us, but He never tempts us.
Temptation begins with desires or lusts, then progresses to being conceived, a fixation on or delight in sinful desires, and ends as birth to sin, a consent to or acting out of sinful desires.
We fall to temptation because we allow ourselves to do so. Neither God nor circumstances force us to yield. Hear and Do 2. My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom 1: He is Creator of all and the giver of spiritual gifts.
The first part of this verse is used in the Divine Liturgy, in the prayer before Christs icon. Brought us forth: He begot us, a reference to baptism, by which we become children of God by grace. The word of truth is the Gospel, the precious, unchanging doctrines of the faith. We are the firstfruits of His creatures: In salvation we benefit not by taking on the essence or nature of God, but by putting on a new humanity consecrated to God as with firstfruits in the OT.
Humanity is preeminent over all creation, and through our salvation all creation is likewise being changed. The first half of this verse appears in the Divine Liturgy in the prayer of thanksgiving after the faithful receive Communion. It proceeds from uncontrolled anger, not from Gods judgment. For us to discern the righteousness of God requires patience, graciousness, and controlled passions. James uses the OT form in 2: What proceeds out of the mouth flows from the heart, for sooner or later our tongue will reveal the quality of our faith in God.
Faithful Christians must be the guardians of the poor, especially of those orphans and widows who have lost their natural guardians. Do not let the widows be neglected; after the Lord, you must be their guardian IgnAnt. A traditional indicator of a working faith. Let us make haste to wash away through fasting the filth of our transgressions, and through acts of mercy and compassion to the needy let us enter into the bridal chamber of the Bridegroom Christ, who grants to us great mercy Vespers, week before Lent.
Favoring the rich over the poor is contrary to true faith. A persons dignity and worth come from God, not from fellow humans. So we must not judge others by the earthly standards of rank, wealth, attainments, and appearance.
Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Mercy triumphs over judgment. Can faith save him? Show me your faith without youra works, and I will show you my faith by myb works.
You do well. Even the demons believeand tremble! The poor are more likely to repent and renounce this world for the sake of the kingdom, for they more easily see the emptiness of earthly things.
They may mock Christians for the name by which v. The royal law v. The standard by which we judge is that by which we will be judged; the mercy we give will be the mercy we receive. God has shown mercy to us. Let us in our turn show mercy: O heavenly angels, entreat the Giver of good to accept in His infinite mercy our poor and mean repentance Matins, Friday before Lent. This means our faith and our relationship with Godour justificationare dynamic and living.
Our faith grows and affects our actions, or it dies. Faith alone by itself, v. We must nurture our faith in God and love for Him through our works. Do not say you are the temple of the Lord, writes Jeremiah [see Jer 7: As for faith by itself, the devils also believe, and tremble MaxCon.
Abrahams faith in Gods promise is accounted to him for righteousness. God fulfills Abrahams faith by making a covenant with him, an OT liturgical and sacramental act.
He has been tested for years concerning Gods promise of a son.
Now, after the covenant sacrament of initiation circumcision has been given in Gn 17, comes Abrahams supreme test: James reveals that Gn This is a crucial lesson for us in our understanding of justification by faith. Neither Abrahams faith nor his justification is merely momentary, static, or onceand-for-all. It is dynamic, a growth process that finds its natural and normal realization in good works. Far from being just point-in-time, Abrahams justification covered at least 25 years after God first declared him just.
It is living and active faith that saves! Controlling What We Say 2. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.
Quarrels in the Church 2 so the tongue is a little member and boasts Where do wars and fights come from great things. Do they not come from See how great a forest a little fire kindles! The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and aNU-Text reads useless. If we can control what we say, we can control what we do vv.
For James, this is a prime example of the relationship between faith and works, and a major locus of spiritual warfare. James even warns against becoming a Christian teacher v. Self-centered faith will manifest itself in self-centered works, in this case helping others. True wisdom comes from God and proves itself by action v. Sensual v. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. The lex credendi depends on the devotional experience and vision of the Church. Confession, therefore, and witness through Bible come only as the natural consequence of the Eucharistic communion experience of the local communities.
Post-modernity has challenged the priority of texts over experience—a syndrome still dominant in modern Christian scholarship; the priority of theology, in the conventional sense, over ecclesiology, and the priority of faith over the communion experience of the Kingdom of God. The dogma, imposed on all scholarly theological output after the Enlightenment and the Reformation, that the basis of our Christian faith cannot be extracted except from a certain depositum fidei, most notably from the Bible to which usually Tradition was added , can no longer be sustained.
More careful attention is paid and more serious reference is being given to the Eucharistic communion experience that has been responsible for, and has produced, this depositum fidei.
Gal A particular issue like the reading of the Bible cannot be detached from the Reading the Bible from an Orthodox Perspective ecclesial Eucharistic community.
It is, thus, no exaggeration to state that the liturgical—more precisely the Eucharistic— dimension is perhaps the only safe criterion in ascertaining the way in which the Orthodox approach the Bible, the way they read the Bible, the way they know, receive, and interpret the Bible, the way they are inspired and nourished by the Bible.
Those who have attended an Orthodox liturgy will have realized—perhaps with astonishment or even shock—that the Bible is normally not read but sung in the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, as if the Bible readings were designed not so much in order that the faithful might understand and appropriate the word of God, but in order to glorify an event or a person.
The event is the eschatological kingdom, and the person, the center of that kingdom, Christ himself. This is one reason why the Orthodox, while traditionally in favor of translating the Bible and not only into a language people can understand, are unfortunately reluctant to introduce common-language translations of the Bible readings in their Divine Liturgy.
In the Orthodox Divine Liturgy it is not only Jesus Christ in His first coming, who speaks through scripture, it is the word of the glorified Lord in His second coming that is also supposed to be proclaimed. Eucharistic theology gives preeminence to the local communities and—believe it or not—to the contextual character of Christian life.
The implications of these affirmations for the proper way of reading the Bible are extremely important. The Bible is not primarily read in order to appropriate theological or doctrinal convictions or to set moral, social or ethical norms; rather it is read in order to experience the life of communion that exists in God.
Historically, this is how the Bible was approached by monastics and ascetics in the Orthodox tradition: as a means for personal spiritual edification, as a companion to achieve holistic personal growth, to reach deification theosis , in other words to share the communion that exists in God.
Dionysios of Neapolis Nevertheless, while the words of scripture are addressed to us human beings personally, they are at the same time addressed to us as members of a community. Book and ecclesial community, Bible and Church, are not to be separated. In the West the authority of the Bible was imposed or rediscovered in the Protestant and Roman Catholic tradition respectively to counterbalance the excesses of their hierarchical leadership, the authority of the institutional church.
In the East this task—not always without problems—was entrusted to the charismatic and the spiritual. In the West, where more emphasis was given to the historical dimension of the Church, this solution was inevitable; in the East, where the Orthodox theology has developed a more eschatological understanding of the Church, the true guardian of the faith is the people, the members of the eucharistic communities.
A dynamic encounter of the East with the West—and with the South—will not only enrich both approaches to the Bible; it will also enhance and broaden the different understandings of catholicity. This interdependence of Church and Bible is evident in at least two ways. First, we receive scripture through and in the Church.
The Church tells us what scripture is. It was the Church which decided which books would form the canon of the New Testament. A book is not part of Holy Scripture because of any particular theory about its date and authorship, but because the Church treats it as canonical.
Second, we interpret the Bible through and in the Church. If it is the Church that tells us what isscripture, equally it is the Church that tells us how scripture is to be understood. We read the Bible personally, but not as isolated individuals. We read it in communion with all the other members of the body of Christ in all parts of the world and in all generations of time.
God does indeed speak directly to the heart of each one of us during the scripture readings, but this is always done within a framework and with a certain point of reference. Because scripture is the word of God expressed in human language, there is a place for honest critical inquiry when reading the Bible.
The Orthodox Church has never officially rejected the critical inquiry of the Bible. We make full use of biblical commentaries and of the findings of modern research. In our attempt to grasp the deeper meaning of the word of God we make use of a wide range of methodologies. Even inclusive language can be legitimated, so long as it does not contradict the fundamentals of the Christian faith, not to mention of course that any idea of rewriting the Bible can hardly be accepted. It is quite interesting that in its long tradition the Orthodox Church has never decreed any dogma or doctrinal statement not clearly rooted in the Bible.
However, we submit our individual opinions, whether our own or those of the experts, to the Church, not in the form of a juridical or scholarly magisterium, but always in its communal dimension and with the view of the eschatological character of the Church as a glimpse and foretaste of the coming Kingdom. It is of fundamental importance that the Orthodox approach the Bible as the inspired word of God, always in a spirit of obedience, with a sense of wonder and an attitude of listening.
Christological In addition to the ecclesial perspective in reading the Bible, in the Orthodox Church the Christological perspective is also affirmed.As in the Eucharist, so too in icons, the same interaction of past, present and future is manifest, and the same anticipation by this world of the world to come is present.
But after nearly years, the bishop of Rome slowly began to assume to himself a role of superiority over the others, ultimately claiming to be the only true successor to Peter.
Theirs was by no means a preaching-only mission! For two thousand years the Orthodox Church has by Gods mercy kept the faith delivered once for all to the saints. The ancient Christian custom was to confess your trespasses to one another v. Clint N Andea Patronella. Eucharistic theology gives preeminence to the local communities and—believe it or not—to the contextual character of Christian life.
For James, this is a prime example of the relationship between faith and works, and a major locus of spiritual warfare. There are a number of books and periodicals immensely helpful to people seeking to learn about the Orthodox Church. For us to discern the righteousness of God requires patience, graciousness, and controlled passions.
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