Biblical Criticism, Biblical Studies, Exegesis, and Hermeneutics

Stuff I have actually read:

6 May 2014 – Is Orthodoxy Compatible with Modern, Biblical Criticism?

June 2017 – Figure It In by Michael C. Legaspi

10 July 2017 – The Corruption of Biblical Studies

Stuff I have yet to actually read:


1871 – The last twelve verses of the gospel according to S. Mark : vindicated against recent critical objectors and established by John William Burgon

1896 – The traditional text of the Holy Gospels vindicated and established by John William Burgon

1896 – The causes of the corruption of the traditional text of the Holy Gospels : being the sequel to The traditional text of the Holy Gospels by John William Burgon

1883 – A Companion to the Greek Testament and the English Version by Philip Schaff – The second section of the first chapter is entitled “Three Elect Languages,” referring of course to Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. “While some of the Augustinian approach has been eroded by contemporary biblical criticism, its most fundamentalist ingredient has ironically survived as the foundation of that criticism. The fixation with scriptural words has been transformed into a fixation with the original languages of scripture, demonstrated especially through the preference for the Hebrew over the Greek Old Testament. In many respects, this preoccupation with the critical study of scripture in the original languages has reminded Romanides of the “three languages” heresy of the western middle ages which proclaimed that the true languages of theology could only be those of the cross’s superscription. But because the language of God is uncreated, the interpretation of scripture cannot reside with linguists but only with those who have experienced glorification.” – Andrew J. Sopko, Prophet of Roman Orthodoxy: The Theology of John Romanides

1908 – The Value of Byzantine and Modern Greek in Hellenic Studies

The Text Of New Testament 4th Edit

Culture of Death

25 March 1995 – Evangelium Vitae, Roman Catholic Pope John Paul II – “In fact, while the climate of widespread moral uncertainty can in some way be explained by the multiplicity and gravity of today’s social problems, and these can sometimes mitigate the subjective responsibility of individuals, it is no less true that we are confronted by an even larger reality, which can be described as a veritable structure of sin. This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable “culture of death.””

29 April 2017 – Wiktionary, culture of death

24 May 2017 – St. Louis Roman Catholic Archbishop Resists Law Requiring Catholics to Hire Abortion Activists: ‘We will not comply’ – “The passage of this bill is not a milestone of our city’s success. It is, rather, a marker of our city’s embrace of the culture of death.”

30 June 2017 – The Vatican’s Statement on UK Baby Condemned to Die is Frightening –

“So we must watch as a little boy, not old enough yet to be a toddler, dies “with dignity,” at the hands of a court system with no business making such a decision, and with the meek and tacit approval of a church that, once upon a time, fully understood the stakes of precious human life but now speaks only of “complexity.”
This issue is not complex. Nor is the culture of death that underlines it. We should be afraid of what is to come next.”

July 2 update to the above: Pope Francis backs parents in UK’s Charlie Gard drama

2 July 2017 – Human Exceptionalism: Life and Dignity with Wesley J. Smith, Three Culture of Death Tipping Points

Saturday Morning Sex-Talk

Dr. Roy Ciampa on 1 Corinthians 7:1

This is a really interesting video about an important topic that is really rarely discussed in the Orthodox Church (“there is no sex in the Church”), and this video deals with Greek! We must keep in mind, however, that as great as academia is, “the Orthodox explanation and understanding of Holy Scripture must always proceed from the writings of the saints.”¹

This teaching comes from Canon 19 of the Œcumenical Πενθέκτη Σύνοδος of 692, as we read in τὸ Πηδάλιον (note: the only free copy in Greek can be found at the Internet Archive, but is the 1886 edition and does not contain the Canons from the Œcumenical Πενθέκτη Σύνοδος of 692; the physical Greek copy I have in my seminary room is in Toronto and not here with me in Manitoba. As far as my searches showed me, The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae® does not contain it. Accordance Bible Software has the Anglican English translation (which is currently on sale as part of their Father’s Day “Focus on the Fathers” sale), which I believe is the same translation found here, obviously lacking Accordance’s researching/searching/linking κ.τ.λ. abilities. And finally an Orthodox English translation and Greek of the version I have in my seminary room can be bought for Noet Scholarly Tools and Logos Bible Software (apparently this Greek is a different 1886 edition), where the Greek of Canon 19 below is from (notes removed)):


   Ὅτι δεῖ τοὺς τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν Προεστῶτας, ἐν πάσῃ μὲν ἡμέρᾳ, ἐξαιρέτως δὲ ἐν ταῖς Κυριακαῖς πάντα τὸν Κλῆρον, καὶ τὸν λαὸν ἐκδιδάσκειν τοὺς τῆς εὐσεβείας λόγους ἐκ τῆς Θείας Γραφῆς ἀναλεγομένους τὰ τῆς ἀληθείας νοήματά τε καὶ κρίματα, καὶ μὴ παρεκβαίνοντας τοὺς ἤδη τεθέντας ὅρους, ἢ τὴν ἐκ τῶν Θεοφόρων Πατέρων παράδοσιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ εἰ γραφικὸς ἀνακινηθείη λόγος, μὴ ἄλλως τοῦτον ἑρμηνευέτωσαν, ἢ, ὡς ἂν οἱ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας φωστῆρες καὶ διδάσκαλοι διὰ τῶν οἰκείων συγγραμμάτων παρέθεντο, καὶ μᾶλλον ἐν τούτοις εὐδοκιμείτωσαν, ἢ λόγους οἰκείους συντάττοντες, ἵνα μή, ἔστιν ὅτε, πρὸς τοῦτο ἀπόρως ἔχοντες, ἀποπίπτοιεν τοῦ προσήκοντος. Διὰ γὰρ τῆς τῶν προειρημένων Πατέρων διδασκαλίας, οἱ λαοὶ ἐν γνώσει γινόμενοι τῶν τε σπουδαίων καὶ αἱρετῶν, καὶ τῶν ἀσυμφόρων καὶ ἀποβλήτων, τὸν βίον μεταρρυθμίζουσι πρὸς τὸ βέλτιον, καὶ τῷ τῆς ἀγνοίας οὐχ ἁλίσκονται πάθει, ἀλλὰ προσέχοντες τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ, ἑαυτοὺς πρὸς τὸ μὴ κακῶς παθεῖν παραθήγουσι, καὶ φόβῳ τῶν ἐπηρτημένων τιμωριῶν, τὴν σωτηρίαν ἑαυτοῖς ἐξεργάζονται.²




¹The Departure of the Soul According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Church: A Patristic Anthology, Master Reference Edition (Florence, AZ: St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, 2017), 60.

²Agapios, Orthodox Eastern Church, and Nicodemus. (1886). The Rudder: Greek Text (p. 195). Athēnai: Vlastou Ch. Varvarrētou.

“Oriental Orthodoxy,” Part I: Chalcedonian Orthodoxy and Non-Chalcedonian Heterodoxy

In The Triads St. Gregory Palamas made a reference to the Christological decree of the Council of Chalcedon (451),

If then this light, which shone from the Saviour on the Mountain, is a natural symbol, it is not so in respect of both the natures in Him, for the natural characteristics of each nature are different.

This is very telling, as 1.) it affirms Chalcedon, and 2.) shows the historicity of the Orthodox Church’s orthodox Christology as defined at the Fourth Ecumenical Council–very telling indeed, especially in our present-day when both of the preceding points are under attack, and not just by heretics, but by many Orthodox as well.

The Spread of Heresy

This could be seen last year when the blog Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy published a brilliant, insightful and historically accurate post by guest author Nicholas Marinides, Ph.D., entitled Chalcedonian Orthodoxy and Non-Chalcedonian Heterodoxy. Not only did Fr. Andrew Damick opt to add an ‘Editorial Note’ preceding the ‘Comments’ section, but the post has since been updated with links to two follow-up posts which I have not yet had the time to read, due to training jiu-jitsu and being a full-time seminarian in a different province than my long-suffering wife.

The post itself obviously is not what I’m referring to when I wrote above ‘this could be seen last year,’ but the comments section, as those who are not embracing the Monophysite/Miaphysite heresies with open arms could easily guess. Indicative of the mindset of those posting in the comments against Dr. Marinides is the fact that a couple Orthodox Theological Academies embrace the same mindset, as I will show in a “Prequel” in this series.

Ephesians 4:15

I sent a link to the blog post to my Spiritual Father, as he (in addition to being a Professor of Pastoral Theology in a seminary) is in an unusual position as he not only has his M.A.Th. from one of the pro-Miaphysite Orthodox Theological Academies but is also a Lecturer at the other. His response?

 This is good

Speaking the truth in love

And he is exactly right. The comments posted in response to Dr. Marinides’ post are crazy, and quite telling actually about what shapes people’s minds; they also reveal a historical anachronism in that Monophysitism ‘became’ Miaphysitism which ‘became’ Oriental Orthodoxy, Dr. Marinides even touched on that slightly. That’s one of the worst arguments really, that what the Miaphysites believe now is not what they believed then… OK, then either they have invented a new heresy from the old heresy, or they are in fact Orthodox. When I read stuff such as The Nature of Christ by Shenouda III, to me, it’s pretty clear they are Monophysites renaming themselves Miaphysites (ironically both terms meaning ‘one nature’), and so Monophysitism was condemned at Chalcedon and Miaphysitism was condemned in the 8th anathema in the 8th session of the 5th Ecumenical Council: 

“VIII. IF anyone uses the expression “of two natures,” confessing that a union was made of the Godhead and of the humanity, or the expression “the one nature made flesh of God the Word,” and shall not so understand those expressions as the holy Fathers have taught, to wit: that of the divine and human nature there was made an hypostatic union, whereof is one Christ; but from these expressions shall try to introduce one nature or substance [made by a mixture] of the Godhead and manhood of Christ; let him be anathema. For in teaching that the only-begotten Word was united hypostatically [to humanity] we do not mean to say that there was made a mutual confusion of natures, but rather each [nature] remaining what it was, we understand that the Word was united to the flesh. Wherefore there is one Christ, both God and man, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood. Therefore they are equally condemned and anathematized by the Church of God, who divide or part the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ, or who introduce confusion into that mystery.”

Case closed, right? This is where I’m not so sure, as Ecumenists and academic theologians push this issue one is forced to admit the Monophysites and Miaphysites are in error, or that the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Ecumenical Councils are in error, as after Chalcedon they each sequentially confirm the previous Council. This relates to whether or not the case is closed by an appeal to history: up until the 11th century all of Christendom (excluding heretical groups) accepted the 8th Ecumenical Council, with the Patriarchate of Rome after falling into schism rejecting it and so they had their own #8 later, but all of Orthodoxy continued to count 8 Ecumenical Councils all the way up until the 19th century, —thereafterfor reasons best explained by the late Fr. Romanides—it was incorrectly removed from our Ecclesiastical history, which is precisely what will happen to the 7th, 6th, 5th, and 4th: we will become Miaphysites. Little by little, step by step, the road to Tartarus is paved with good intentions…

Holy Saturday 1579: The Miracle of the Holy Fire

The above is really unsettling, and the whole situation confusing, to those who attempt to fight the good fight, to keep the faith—but don’t lose heart, we have a miracle showing us the way in which we should proceed: the miracle of the Holy Fire, which as of this writing has already been granted to the Chalcedonian Orthodox faithful who gathered at the Holy Sepulchre today.

Every time heretics have tried to obtain the Holy Fire they have failed. Three such attempts are known, and it is the one in 1579 that concerns us in this post:

Once the Armenians (monophysites – ed.) paid the Turks, who then occupied the Holy Land, in order to obtain permission for their Patriarch to enter the Holy Sepulchre, the Orthodox Patriarch was standing sorrowfully with his flock at the exit of the church, near the left column, when the Holy Light split this column vertically and flashed near the Orthodox Patriarch.

A Muslim Muezzin, called Tounom, who saw the miraculous event from an adjacent mosque, immediately abandoned the Muslim religion and became an Orthodox Christian. This event took place in 1579 under Sultan Mourad IV, when the Patriarch of Jerusalem was Sophrony IV.

Keep this in mind when in a few hours we ourselves receive the light from the flame of the sleepless lamp on the Holy Altar in our parishes, lighting our Paschal candles from it as we receive the light from the unwaning light, and glorify Christ Who is risen from the dead. Recall at that moment when the Holy Light split the column, lighting the candle of the Chalcedonian Orthodox Patriarch Sophrony IV, and not the candle of the Miaphysite Patriarch.

Further Reading

The Messianic Theology of Bob Marley and His Conversion to Ethiopian Orthodoxy – Dr. Taylor Marshall

Meet the Oriental Orthodox Christians and Their Controversial Christology – Dr. Taylor Marshall