An Orthodox Hermeneutic

Is or can there be such a thing as an Orthodox hermeneutic (method of interpretation) of Scripture?  I asserted in a recent post that there was such a thing and that the Orthodox would do well to work towards its recovery rather than using the hermeneutics of others who do not hold the Orthodox faith. I will make a small suggestion for how this may be understood. St. Paul, writing to the…

Literally Wrong

I have written on a number of occasions about the interpretation of the Scriptures and particularly about the problems of Biblical literalism. I have also, on occasion, made a link between Biblical literalism and a sort of “literalism” about the world and the universe about us. I believe that both are deeply connected and share a world-view which is, ultimately, grounded in ideas of the modern world (rather than historic, traditional ideas…

Scripture, Icons, and the World We Know

I ask for grace in writing this, lest I go beyond my ability. It seems to me well worth saying as discussions of the relationship between Scripture, dogma and science have surfaced. I offer this as food for thought as well as a ground of discussion. First, I will note an American Protestant tradition (somewhat thin these days but still present in plenty of places within our culture). What I have in…

With A Secret Hand

One of the joys of the newly published, Orthodox Study Bible (OSB), containing all the canonical Orthodox books of the Bible, is the fact that the Old Testament was carefully brought into agreement with the text of the Septuagint, long a standard and important liturgical translation for Orthodox Christians. The early Church generally used the Septuagint, a translation from the Hebrew made in Alexandria, Egypt, some 200 or more years before Christ.…

The Truth About the End Times

I live in the South – which means plenty of bumper stickers warning, “In case of rapture this car will be unmanned.” I grew up surrounded by preaching on the last days in a context that was decidedly Dispensationalist, Pre-Tribulation, etc. If you are a reader who does not know what all that means then you’ve missed a huge part of our American Culture. It means one believes that time is divided…

The Passions and the Reading of Scripture

The following comes from Dumitru Staniloae’s Orthodox Spirituality. It underscores the need for the struggle against the passions if we are to read Scripture rightly. “Man,” says St. Maximus, “has the absolute need for these two things, if he wants to keep the right way to God without error: the spiritual understanding of Scripture and the spiritual contemplation of God in nature.” In his interpretation of the transfiguration of the Lord, Jesus’…

The Passion to Consume

I have mentioned the role that the passions play in our consumer culture. I would like to write in greater depth about that phenomenon. It permeates our culture – and yet, strangely, I do not find it to be a dominant concern of people when they think about their sins or when they think of our culture and its sins. In that sense it reminds me of a study I did several…

The Scripture in Creation

One of the many endearing stories of St. Seraphim of Sarov was a small act of devotion he engaged in during his years as a hermit. The area around his hermitage was designated by him with Biblical place-names. Thus one place was Jerusalem, another Bethlehem, etc. Thus did the great saint transform the trees and rocks and every path by taking it up into the Biblical story. His every action outside his…

To Hear the Word of God Frequently

I would not want to give a wrong impression that an Orthodox Christian needs less Scripture. We need more – but it should be used in a right manner. Many so-called Bible studies simply increase information in an already information-overloaded world. We need not so much information as the powerful work of the Word of God moving in our heart. Thus memorization and repetition of Scripture, as prayer, is a very important…

The Warfare of Prayer

A friend relates the story that when as a young, protestant teenager, she approached her pastor to ask about a prayer life, she was met with little or no answer. She had an instinct that there was more to prayer than she knew – but she was living in a tradition that knew little about prayer. It is a lack that is born of a truncated notion of salvation. Salvation itself, in her…