The Questions of Serbian Orthodox Variety

The Pope seems alright on ecumenical stuff, but I much preferred Benedict’s theology and economics. Francis, along with most Orthodox bishops should be much much much more careful before condemning economic policies.
Another topic for another time! I might be the only one that feels that way on this forum.

The thing about 1054 is interesting!

I remember a similar story from an Orthodox friend about lightening striking a particular place the minute that Papal Infallibility was declared a Dogma. :wink:


That actually marks another, albeit smaller, schism. Old Catholic church left because of that.

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I agree with the main premise, but isn’t it a false dichotomy to pitch “the Christ event” against other biblical teachings as if they were antithetic? The famous saying of Augustine, The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed is surely pertinent, in that the glorification of Christ in his death and resurrection casts an interpretive light on the rest of Scripture. He did not appear fortuitously, but “according to the Scriptures.”

Granted, that light might have conceivably done away with Adam or Moses, but they are not irrelevant to it, for Jesus is, in the New Testament, both the New Adam and the Deuteronomic “Prophet like Moses.” Even Noah gets a look in as a type of Christ.

An analogy would be “Love God and Love your Neighbour” as the two greatest commandments “on which,” Jesus said, “hang all the law and the prophets.” They illuminate the core of the law - they do not make it false.

Surely one of the most significant revelations of the New Testament is that the crucified, risen and glorified Christ was always the Logos who spoke creation into being in Genesis, and who spoke, by his Spirit, through the prophets.

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Mind you, I’m not saying that all the stories from the Old Testament are false or irrelevant (for example, we’re fairly certain that King David existed and that he created the House of David, although his kingdom probably wasn’t as big as the Old Testament led us to believe) I’m just saying that as a Christian my faith lies primarily with Jesus. Me saying you can throw away Adam, Noah or Moses is merely a ‘what if’ scenario, and it certainly wouldn’t influence my faith much.

Ah, but is that to look at David in the light of Christ, or merely in the light of archaeology? :grinning:

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Both. Because while I do believe that the Bible is an inspired word of God, I also believe that there is a possibility of human error in how we (and indeed, the original writers themselves) interpret God’s word. So, while we should trust in the Bible, we should by no means ignore science and (more importantly, in my opinion) history in favor of reading it literary because that would cause far more problems than it would solve.


I think most everyone today essentially has the reverse hermeneutic of Origen/The Cappadocians/Maximus. Beginning with Diodore of Tarsus (who John Chrysostom followed and learned from), every spiritual meaning of scripture had to be grounded in a concrete “event” in scripture. Not so before him. For the Christians I mentioned earlier, ALL of scripture has a spiritual meaning but not all of scripture has a literal meaning. So the primary meaning of Adam is that he is a type of Christ, and we can only see this AFTER God has ascended the cross. The primary meaning of Noah, again is that he is Christ, who saves those from the world outside by protecting within the Ark, which is a type of the Church. Only after Diodore did it become essential that these things become linked to earthly events for the typology to “work.”

I think there needs to be some sort of historic core to Israel’s stories for Christianity to make sense…my OT prof seemed to support the notion of multiple exoduses being worked into one grand story in the book of Exodus. That seems to work for me.

As for HBC for the NT, I think it matters a great deal, so I love Wright and Bauckham, Licona, Hurtado, Richard Hays, etc.


There seems to be a similar process in Catholic theology. Apparently Aquinas describes all the various forms of meaning, but says that doctrine may only be deduced from the literal meaning.

That, of course, begs the question of what the literal meaning is, but I haven’t seen it expressed better than the Bible translator William Tyndale, who essentially described the literal meaning in terms of the genre intended by the author. That is still a good enough definition for me.

Christianity is a historical faith, from start to finish - unless Jesus really did live, die and rise there is no gospel. I can’t really embrace the idea that that historical event is foretold and prepared for by a series of fictional events.

You’re saying that before Aquinas (whose favorite homilist was John Chrysostom by the way!), the literal meaning didn’t have as much force?

So the job of the Church (I’m speaking like an EO Christian because I am one) is to percieve the mind of the biblical author?

So Paul had to be speaking of authorial intent when he says that Christ is the rock in the wilderness or speaks of the allegory of Sarah and Hagar? I agree with Enns that Paul was not concerned with this. BUT, I think Enns’s entire project heads down the wrong path when he concludes that Paul was just doing some culturally relative practice. Paul was getting at the TRUE meaning of scripture, which is Christ! He and Hays do a great job of saying what Paul was doing but I think Christians fed by the liturgical life of the Church SHOULD follow Paul’s lead. They think you should give Christians a D if they do what Paul was doing.

Surely you don’t think the Song of Songs should be interpreted according to the authorial intent? The Church Fathers were almost unanimous about this. And it would never have been canonized even in the Jewish tradition if it were not interpreted PRIMARILY as an allegory of God’s love for Israel.

No - I just happened to read that Aquinas comment recently. Aquinas, though, would have regarded Paul’s interpretation of an OT episode as being in itself inspired and “literal”: our task would then be to make doctrine from Paul’s literal, christological, meaning. But not to read Christ illegitimately into every OT narrative for ourselves.

I think Aquinas would have been thinking of something more like this: under mediaeval interpretive methods, might one well look at the “increase in the pain of childbirth” that came to Eve through the fall, and link it allegorically with Paul’s statement in Rom 7 about the groaning of creation as they await the kingdom, or even with the fact that the kingdom of God comes only through suffering.

That might actually be a reasonable sermon illustration even for a Calvinist like me, but Aquinas would not want us to build our doctrine of sacrificial suffering on it, even though it’s a christological application of a passage that is often treated as prophetic in its talk of Eve’s seed brusing the serpent’s head, etc.

I think where Enns goes wrong on Paul is where he goes wrong on the Incarnation and Scripture both - somewhere along the line the divine gets entirely lost, so that Paul’s authority as an apostle gets downgraded to a merely human ability as a (culturally constrained) exegete.


For @jongarvey to be right about this requires cherry-picking sources.

There are Greek wtitings from the 400s to 600s CE that clearly dismiss Latin writings about original sin.


Could you by any chance tell me what those writings say? (Short version of course)


How could it ever be illegitimate to read Christ into an Old Testament narrative when Christ Himself IS the hermeneutic principle by which we read the OT? :wink:


Had an entertaining conversation with many scholars about this (e.g. @deuteroKJ). The question takes us to the strengths and limits of “authorial intent” as a hermeneutic guide.


I know i put quotes in my work computer; i will look to see if i have a copy in my personal home files!

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@Djordje (@swamidass and @jongarvey)

This isnt the one i was thinking about… but it should be a good start:

“Even though the Orthodox Church rejects the western articulation of original sin, we still need to be born again. After a person sins, the gulf between him and God begins to grow. Every time he heaps guilt upon his soul, he pushes himself further away from union with God and wounds himself in the process.”

“Baptism is the beginning of the lifelong journey of repentance in the Church in which we die to the law of death in order to live according to the law of life; our past, present, and future sins are washed away, we are no longer a slave to the effects of sin, and we are re-instilled with God’s grace and the potential for immortality in Christ.”

“Even though infants themselves are not guilty of original sin, they receive all of these benefits at baptism because they inherited mortality and a weak will. The cross is not an atoning satisfaction or penal substitutionary act, but rather it is Christus Victor; the victorious Christ who trampled sin and death through his voluntary, atoning sacrifice.”

“God took on the flesh of his creatures and allowed us to participate in the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), thus restoring creation to become what it was meant to be.”

“The doctrine of original sin as originally articulated by the Roman Catholic Church and later by Protestants is not simply a case of semantics, but an erroneous anthropology resulting from theological reactions and misunderstandings. This doctrine has wide implications for anthropolog, sin, grace, free will, baptism, and theosis. How we understand the effects of the Fall directly bears on our soteriology. The Orthodox position on original sin (ancestral sin) is that humanity inherited only the consequences of sin from Adam and Eve, rather than their guilt.”

“Baptism restores God’s grace to humans so that we have the ability to overcome sin and death and finish the song of humanity.”

An excerpt from Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes, by Fr. John Meyendorff:

The scriptural text, which played a decisive role in the polemics between Augustine and the Pelagians, is found in Romans 5:12 where Paul speaking of Adam writes, “As sin came into the world through one man and through sin and death, so death spreads to all men because all men have sinned [eph ho pantes hemarton]”

In this passage there is a major issue of translation. The last four Greek words were translated in Latin as in quo omnes peccaverunt (“in whom [i.e., in Adam] all men have sinned”), and this translation was used in the West to justify the doctrine of guilt inherited from Adam and spread to his descendants. But such a meaning cannot be drawn from the original Greek — the text read, of course, by the Byzantines. The form eph ho — a contraction of epi with the relative pronoun ho — can be translated as “because,” a meaning accepted by most modern scholars of all confessional backgrounds.22 Such a translation renders Paul’s thought to mean that death, which is “the wages of sin” (Rm 6:23) for Adam, is also the punishment applied to those who like him sin. It presupposed a cosmic significance of the sin of Adam, but did not say that his descendants are “guilty” as he was unless they also sinned as he did.
A number of Byzantine authors, including Photius, understood the eph ho to mean “because” and saw nothing in the Pauline text beyond a moral similarity between Adam and other sinners in death being the normal retribution for sin. But there is also the consensus of the majority of Eastern Fathers, who interpret Romans 5:12 in close connection with 1 Corinthians 15:22 — between Adam and his descendants there is a solidarity in death just as there is a solidarity in life between the risen Lord and the baptized. This interpretation comes obviously from the literal, grammatical meaning of Romans 5:12. Eph ho, if it means “because,” is a neuter pronoun; but it can also be masculine referring to the immediately preceding substantive thanatos (“death”). The sentence then may have a meaning, which seems improbable to a reader trained in Augustine, but which is indeed the meaning which most Greek Fathers accepted: “As sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, so death spread to all men; and because of death, all men have sinned…”

More here:

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