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…

Women’s Gifts

There is much talk among Christian feminists of the necessity of utilizing “women’s gifts” in the Church and of the subsequent necessary ordination of women in order to allow for this utilization. Obviously nobody wants to have anyone’s gifts in the Church go unutilized, and so both fairness to women and love for the Church (it is argued) demand that women be ordained to all orders in the Church. Most of the…

Looking at the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

I cannot be the only Orthodox pastor to have been asked occasionally by my people about the meaning of the Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian. In its (OCA) translation, it reads, “O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Yea, O Lord and…