The Angel of the Lord

In our last post we looked at the long process whereby angelology developed in the Bible.  Now we will look at one particular aspect of this:  the mal’ak Yahweh, “Yahweh’s messenger”, usually translated “the Angel of the Lord”. We have seen that the Hebrew word mal’ak could mean several things.  In Genesis 32:3 it meant the human messengers that Jacob sent on ahead to meet Esau.  In Psalm 104:4 it referred to…

Angels: A Long Development

In order to fully understand angels in the Bible it helps to embrace a bit of temporary amnesia and forget most of what we know about angels.  That is because angelology has undergone a long development from its ancient Near Eastern pre-history before the days of the Bible to its final formulation at the hands of St. John of Damascus (d. ca. 749 A.D.) and we must avoid the temptation to anachronistically…

An Alternative Eros

A Greek note:  the English word “erotic” is derived from the Greek word ἔρως/ eros, defined by the Arndt-Gingrich lexicon as “passionate love”.  In Proverbs 7:18 LXX it is used for the adulteress’ forbidden “embrace in eros”; in Proverbs 30:16 LXX the “eros of a woman” is listed along with the hungry Hades/ Sheol as something which is never satisfied.  In a rather less sensual way St. Ignatius wrote that he was…

“The Autonomy of Women”

At the recent March for Life in Washington, D.C. one person gave a speech.  In it he said, “We affirm the gift and sanctity of life—all life, born and unborn.  As Christians we confess that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God.  Every life is worthy of our prayer and our protection, whether in the womb or in the world…At the same time, we also affirm our…

Zacchaeus Up a Tree

With the possible literary exception of Tarzan, real men do not climb trees.  At least they didn’t in the Middle East in the time of Jesus.  Neither did they run.  Running was for children, and professional messengers, and soldiers.  Adults who were neither professional runners nor soldiers did not run.  They strolled at a leisurely pace, as befit men of importance and great dignity. It is important to keep these bits of…

Autocephaly and the Episcopate

I have just finished reading a very important and immensely depressing book about the autocephaly of the OCA entitled, The Time Has Come: Debates over the OCA Autocephaly Reflected in St. Vladimir’s Quarterly. It is an important book because it offers so many insights about the OCA’s autocephaly and church history in general (not surprisingly, given the high quality of the contributors). It is depressing because it documents a long history of…