Old Testament as Icon

When I was in seminary, I focused for my STM on the study of the Old Testament (OT).  My thesis was on understanding the census numbers in the book of Numbers, so that they could be read as Christian Scripture (and not mere ‘history’). Passages such as those are often ignored in preaching and catechesis, as they seem like good history (maybe), but not much else.  My answer, after surveying all the…

Five Principles for Reading the Old Testament

The Old Testament can be confusing. It’s very long, and unfamiliar to most Christians. Many reading it cannot see how it points to the coming of Jesus. Most modern biblical scholarship makes this worse, as it asserts that the Old Testament is a complex of contradictory theologies that tell us more about the culture of the Near East than it tells us about Christ, if it tells us anything about Christ at…

The Apostle Paul’s Reading of Psalm 14

Have you ever compared the wording of Psalm 14 in English translations of the Old Testament with how the apostle Paul cites it in the New? Paul was of course thoroughly familiar with the Jewish scriptures, referring to them frequently and revealing the truth of Christ’s life within. In his letter to the Romans, before claiming that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world, Paul first underlines the depths of our sin. He references Psalm 14, showing that…

Irenaeus of Lyons on the Greek Old Testament

In the twenty-first chapter of the third book Against Heresies, St. Irenaeus of Lyons addresses the translation of Isaiah 7:14 among Ebionites and Jews. In doing so, he underlines the antiquity and importance of the Greek translation of the Old Testament as inherited by the apostolic Church. By the end of the second century (A. D.), two alternative Greek translations of the Hebrew scriptures had been composed. Noting the aforementioned passage in the prophet Isaiah,…

Justin Martyr on the Greek Old Testament

Considered one of the ‘Apostolic Fathers’—a Saint who lived within the lifetime of the first seventy apostles of Jesus Christ—Justin Martyr is one of the earliest, and most important Christian apologists. Spending much of his life searching for truth in Greek philosophy, St. Justin (commemorated June 1) was introduced to Christianity by a learned elder who showed him the superiority of divine revelation over the ‘wisdom of men.’ Desiring to either confirm or deny accusations of pagans against the…

Ecumenism as Dialogue or Monologue? (Part Two: The Witness of Scripture)

In the first part of this series, I offered an overview of the traditional Orthodox method for addressing non-Orthodox communities, highlighting two notable events in Church history. In this essay, I’ll discuss the ecumenical method—that method of God’s covenant people interacting with those outside the covenantal body—as found in the Holy Scriptures. Examples from the Old Testament As one can imagine, while there are no direct examples of Old Testament ecumenical dialogues and monologues…

Mosaic Authorship and Misconceptions Regarding Source Criticism

In a previous post, I argued that Mosaic authorship was structurally significant for the Orthodox faith. I demonstrated that a non-critical acceptance of source criticism was no more amenable to Orthodox Christianity than it is to Protestantism. But before I provide my reasons for rejecting most source critical scholarship, I want to explore and reject poor arguments against source criticism, so that we might clear the ground and approach this issue with Christian charity.…

Is Orthodoxy Compatible with Modern, Biblical Criticism?

In his first homily on the creation of the world, St. Basil the Great writes: Now it is Moses who has composed this history; Moses, who, when still at the breast, is described as exceeding fair; Moses, whom the daughter of Pharaoh adopted; who received from her a royal education, and who had for his teachers the wise men of Egypt; Moses, who disdained the pomp of royalty, and, to share the…