What It Was that Saved Thomas

Thomas had a heart that had taken one too many beatings. Despite his often being stigmatized by later generations as “Doubting Thomas” there is nothing in his past record to indicate such a defect of character. In John’s account of Christ’s raising of Lazarus, when the Lord said that Lazarus had died and that He was going to enter the cauldron of dangerous Judea to “go to him” (John 11:15), the disciples…

The Washing of Feet and the Shining Glory of the Little Local Parish

Orthodoxy is known for its pomp. Or rather (as our apologists and partisans like to say) for “its glorious worship”. We like to share the old story of the delegation from the then-pagan land of the Rus who visited an Orthodox Liturgy in Constantinople in the tenth century and who were so impressed with its liturgical pomp that they “knew not whether they were in heaven or on earth”. We try hard…

Holy Week Anti-Semitism?

In a thoughtful article published recently on Public Orthodoxy entitled, “It’s That Time of Year Again: in Tone Four, ‘The Murderers of God, the Lawless Nation of the Jews…’” Bogdan Bucur offered some reflections about the advisability of altering certain stichs from the Matins services sung on Holy Thursday and Holy Friday. He pointed out that some language could be found offensive to our Jewish neighbours and savoured of anti-Semitism. He did…

Some Doubted

In a well-known passage from Matthew’s Gospel about one of Christ’s resurrection appearances, the passage read at the baptismal service, we find the following words: “The eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, but some doubted” (Mt. 28:16f).  A number of questions rush to the fore: who are these “they” who saw and worshiped Him? And why did “some…

Reflections on the Septuagint

One often hears the refrain that “the Septuagint is the Old Testament of the Orthodox Church”. (For those late to the party: the Septuagint—often abbreviated as “LXX”—is the Greek translation of the Old Testament made in Alexandria around 250 B.C., supposedly by seventy scholars imported for the purpose. Hence the name, which means “of the Seventy”.) The term is usually applied to the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures, despite the fact that…

Songs of Light and Revelation

In the service of Sunday Matins (in Greek Orthros) of the Orthodox Church we find a series of eleven hymns called “the songs of light” (Greek exaposteilaria or photagogika), short stichs which summarize and describe the content of the Gospel chanted earlier during the service. Each one of these eleven Gospel readings offers a description of the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ to His disciples, starting with the appearance related in Matthew 28…