Saturday, 3 September 2016

Former Archimandrite in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Marries Man in Civil Ceremony

I got home this evening and after supper I checked my Facebook feed; for whatever reason this news story from January of this year made it my way and for whatever reason some how I had never heard of this one yet.

What follows below is my edited version of the article.
* * * * * * *

BOSTON – Former Archimandrite of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America John Heropoulos, who left the holy priesthood almost nine years ago, was married to a man on . . . January 9 [2016]. The civil ceremony took place at The Neighborhood Club of Quincy, MA with relatives and friends in attendance.

[. . .] Religious Education Director [of the GOA] Tony Vrame congratulated them, as did Presbytera Cynthia Paleologos, the wife of Fr. Constantine Paleologos former priest of St. Spyridon [GOA] parish in Worchester [sic]. She wrote “so happy for you John! Sending love and prayers for health and happiness together.”

Fr. Dean Panagos, the presiding priest of the St. Sophia [GOA] parish in New London Connecticut who is also the president of the Clergy Association of the Metropolis of Boston wrote on Facebook, “congratulations John”.

[. . .] Heropoulos was a charismatic and able clergyman with excellent administrative ability. He began his Church service as Deacon to the late Archbishop Iakovos. [. . .] While everything seemed to be going well he informed Archbishop Demetrios that he was leaving the holy priesthood and requested to be defrocked. He went to Boston and worked for six years for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Today he is working in the development office of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral.
In an interview with The National Herald Heropoulos said that he met his partner Richard “six years ago at a social event in Boston.” Richard works at Harvard University.

[. . .] TNH asked whether he was attracted to men all of his life or discovered those feelings recently, Heropoulos said, “a gay person is born gay. It is not something that you chose. I was born gay and I was trying to be as good as I could be in my life. As a clergyman I became lonely and so I decided to seek companionship.”

He also said “I told my entire family and many friends years ago that I was gay and nobody was surprised. Everybody – my father, my mother, my dear friends, my family, were accepting and supportive,” and he added “everybody was thrilled that I found somebody to be in love with and to be married to.”

This far, nobody has sent him any negative messages or criticism for getting married to a man, he said.

TNH asked him how he reconciled his past self as a priest, as an Archimandrite, as a official of the Greek Orthodox Church having served in high positions in the [Greek Orthodox] Archdiocese [of America], and being well respected, with the new aspect of his life which theologically, ecclesiastically, and spiritually is not an acceptable situation. Heropoulos said “For me, in my service as a priest the issue was to be a celibate priest that was the key issue, to be faithful to the calling to be a celibate priest and then to try to be the best priest that I could be.”

“Are you saying that when you were a celibate priest you didn’t engage in gay sexual activities,” TNH asked. “I was faithful to my vow of celibacy,” he replied.

“Did you experience constant pressure? Were you looking to escape, to liberate yourself from that situation,” he was asked.

“I don’t think it was a matter of escape or liberation. I think that I dearly loved the priesthood and so I became a priest, and I did my very best and I was very faithful to my vows. When I believed that it was the best thing for me personally, spiritually, then I decided it was time to leave,” he said.

Asked if he is concerned that some in the Greek-American Community would be scandalized, he said “I left the Church [? (below he says he takes communion)] respectfully. Whether someone agrees or not that ultimately ones has the freedom to make that decision, there is nothing I can do about that.”

Heropoulos revealed to TNH that he goes on Sundays and worships in an Orthodox church and that he receives Holy Communion. He said, “yes of course I go to an Orthodox church and yes I receive Holy Communion.”

To the final question of whether he believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman, Heropoulos, said “I don’t have any comment on that.”

Friday, 19 August 2016

Do You Think That We Are a Cycle of Humanity?

In February of 2015 I received an email asking me this,
Do you think that we are a cycle of humanity? Perhaps it is inevitable that everyone dies as overpopulation is eminent. So after we're wiped out again the earth chills for a while and then some goo senses light and it starts all over again? Then the afterlife would potentially contain the souls not only from this cycle but from an unknown number of cycles? Do you think each of those cycles is met with the incarnation of God?
There are many things in my response to the email that I would phrase differently at the moment, and even some parts of my response practically begging for further theological elucidation, but for today I will just share my original reply, corrected for spelling:

Q. Do you think that we are a cycle of humanity?
A. Yes--we are the final cycle. Graham Hancock came to the conclusion that an ancient civilization preceded us, and Richard C. Hoagland believes the data indicates we live in a previously inhabited universe. But God never incarnated until 2000 years ago, which is the denouement of our whole story.

Perhaps it is inevitable that everyone dies as overpopulation is eminent.
^Overpopulation, yes. Everyone dying isn't eminent--we will colonize the moon first, then (return to? ;) ) Mars. Watch the film Interstellar.

So after we're wiped out again the earth chills for a while and then some goo senses light and it starts all over again?
^that's not quite how evolution works. Ontologically speaking, how would the goo sense light? The goo itself, or just its crude eyes? If the goo itself is sentient then the question of its own salvation needs to be addressed as well.

Then the afterlife would potentially contain the souls not only from this cycle but from an unknown number of cycles? 
^it does. That 'part' of the afterlife is hades. Since no one could be justified by the Law of Moses (RSV Acts 13:38-41:Let it be known to you therefore, brethren, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him every one that believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest there come upon you what is said in the prophets: ‘Behold, you scoffers, and wonder, and perish; for I do a deed in your days, a deed you will never believe, if one declares it to you.’), and since all 'other' 'gods' are actually messengers of deception (LXX Psalm 95:5: All the gods of the pagans are demons), then all those who died before Christ's incarnation were not justified, that is one of the reasons Christ had to die after becoming one of us--to descend into hades free those in bondage (RSV 1 Peter 3:18-20: For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water.) This, in Orthodoxy, is known as the Harrowing of Hades

Do you think each of those cycles is met with the incarnation of God?
^No, that's a kind of cyclical-Mormonism, or more Hinduism where there are many avatars. The Logos only incarnated once and at a specific time and because there is no other way for man's justification. The body isn't something 'put on', the Logos became one of us, as St. Athanasius said, God became man so that man might become god. And after His death He was resurrected with a glorified body, He Is the first born of the dead (RSV Colossians 1:17-20: He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.) and ascended into paradise with His body, and since man is a psychosomatic whole, a body and a soul together--not separate, and He became a man, the incarnation can only happen once, since it did happen.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Orthodox Study Bible

[all sic.] I recently bought the Orthodox Study Bible and I have to say that I am less than pleased with it. This Bible could have been done so much better, but was not.

First, the Septuagint text used is Alfred Rahlf's Septuaginta and NOT the Zoe Brotherhood or Apostloki Diakonia texts cross-referenced with the Septuagint readings found in the Liturgical texts to check for any divergence or variations.

Second, the text is NOT a translation, but a slight emendation just changing certain key portions from the Hebrew reading to the Greek reading, but that is not proper as you are left with a mess and miss-mash of a text that is not truly an translation of the Septuagint as used and preserved in the Orthodox Church.

For example please see the mis-translations of Genesis 3:15, Genesis 4:8 (The WHOLE phrase is missing!), Exodus Chapter 3 with the Divine name (The Existing One?) & Psalm 22 just to name a few. Also, the OSB omits 4th Maccabees. Why? Place it in an appendix. 4th Macabees has greatly influenced Orthodox (especially Greek) piety for centuries. Why omit such an important book?

If one looks at the NETS translation (which also has 4th Macc. thank God), which is truly excellent, you get to see the mistranslations and sloppy work that was truly done on the OSB. I was so looking forward to this translation, but now I can't wait to go back to my RSV with the Expanded Apocrypha that is a much better translation.

Third, what happend with the New Testament? It is not the official ecclesiastical text from Constantinople. This could not be fixed. In fact, we were told that the New Testament WAS going to be harmonized with the Patriarchal text, just like we were told that 4th Macc. was going to be translated and included, but this was never done. Why?

All in all this is NOT an Orthodox Study Bible and it was done too quickly by people who were truly going too fast. I believe this is why many in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese were raising concerns and even left the project because a good translation was NOT being done.

- Peter A. Papoutsis, translator of The Holy Orthodox Bible

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Oriental Orthodoxy, Part IV: #waybackwednesday

Just think about this from 1991 for a minute. Let's just stick with 1, 2, and 3 at the moment: their Fathers the Orthodox Church calls heretics in our services--some of them by name.

I'll just let the cognitive dissonance settle in right there.

Politically Incorrect Facebook

The other day I shared a video on Facebook posted by Politically Incorrect Australia to which the below followed:

My Friend: "left wing denial industry". I think there needs to be greater effort to differentiate dangerous Islam from our peaceful Muslim neighbours. Just like you wouldn't say Christianity has a pedo problem, you'd say Catholicism has a pedo problem. We should say Sunni Islam has a death cult problem.

Me: The difference being no where in Catholicism does it say 'molest children,' whereas in any version of Islam the Qur'an is the same Qur'an and is very clear about what to do to people like you and I; even though we hold very different beliefs, under Islam we both die. Of course I'm happy there are followers of Islam who don't actually practice Islam as Islam teaches it should be practiced--just like many 'christians' don't practice Christianity...are these people Christians and Muslims in actuality then? The difference again though is that if the aforementioned 'christian' decides to actually be a Christian in reality and not name only they stop have premarital sex and stop masturbating; if the remaining of the two aforementioned follows suit as it pertains to his own confession of faith and ceases to be nominal he stops eating pork and you and I die, or if we're lucky pay a tax...

My Friend: So you see no value in separating Sunni Islam vs Islam as a whole?

Me: No.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Lenten #throwbackthursday

(Posted on April 5th in the Facebook Group for my Sunday School students)
Below are a bunch of links covering in far more detail what we covered last class [April 3rd], generally following the flow of the first Sunday of Lent and leading to this coming Sunday. It is a lot of reading, read it slowly thinking clearly, and hey, its Lent, chalk it up as Spiritual reading above what you might normally do, or not do.
St. Gregory Palamas: Traditionalist or Innovator?

(Posted on April 13th in the Facebook Group for my Sunday School students)
In part of the discussion last Sunday [10th] I mentioned Monothelitism, St. Maximus the Confessor, and 'the Pope of Rome at the time,' as I forgot the name. Well it turns out today is his Feast Day, St. Martin the Confessor, Pope of Rome!…/101075-st-martin-the-confessor-the-pope-o…

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Immaculate Conception (very rough start-draft) (Updated on Wednesday 20 July 2016)


On January 12th I was doing some reading which resulted in my posting this on Instagram. Well much time has past and I have not made good on my word, though obviously this post is the beginning of me attempting to do so.

Maybe a month ago Fr. Christiaan Kappes invited some people on of which I was one of them to discuss a paper he is working on entitled 'Gregory Nazienzen's Prepurified Virgin in Ecumenical Councils and Patristic Tradition: A Reappraisal of Original Sin, Guilt, and Immaculate Conception.' Obviously a topic of great interest to me, and amongst the comments Adithia Kusno, a Byzantine Catholic, asked,
Did the Greek fathers have in mind a purification at the moment when Theotokos was conceived during St Anna's maternity and not just an ambiguous prenatal purification? Does this purification not exclude her from partaking the consequence of natural death passed from Adam to Christ?
To which I responded with the link to the Instagram post linked above, which in turn resulted in me receiving a private message asking if I would care to share the reference to St Ambrose that I mentioned in the linked Instagram post. I was hoping to have a full post done on this matter but it's becoming apparent to me that with my jiu-jitsu training and Greek studies that it's either going to be a while, its not going to happen, or this is it. So I replied to the message,
No problem, I was referring to St. Ambrose’s 'Commentary on Luke' (Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam).
Those looking for said reference can find it here.


Let's look at some of the discussion that was apart of this paper, to which I will go through and edit/add my comments later, and after that, hopefully, address the main point I brought up in my original Instagram post:
Christiaan Kappes
29 days ago
This paper, so far as I know, newly attempts to recast Augustine in a more exact light on original sin and Mary or the Theotokos' relation thereto. Secondly, it shows the important contribution of Gregory Nazianzen to Christological and Mariological thought that acted as a counterweight to the N. African monopoly on the manner and mechanism of original sin. Mary's exemption from sexually transmitted sin became a driving force to break the strict and universal law of sin, at least in its modality, as applied to human nature. Although the 8th-9th century Greek and Latin solution to the problems were sufficient, they were eventually forgotten in succeeding centuries. Although this paper does not address the issue, Anselm and the English feast of the Immaculate Conception in a post-Norman world ignorant of the prevenient Latin tradition caused a certain confusion on the issue. Mary's conception under various Augustinian-inspired theories of original sin later became such a common misconception that when John Damascene's De fide Orthdoxa was introduced to the West in the 1140s, Damascene's notion of prepurification was thought to confirm Mary's concupiscence, not argue against it!
[. . .]
 Adithia Kusno
28 days ago
Fr Christiaan Kappes, thank you for this interesting discussion. As a Byzantine Catholic, I've been fascinated by your approach to re-examine the idea of Immaculate Conception in Eastern tradition. Did the Greek fathers have in mind a purification at the moment when Theotokos was conceived during St Anna's maternity and not just an ambiguous prenatal purification? Does this purification not exclude her from partaking the consequence of natural death passed from Adam to Christ? There's a minor typo on page 18. I think the year for Constantinople III is 680-1.

Christiaan Kappes
28 days ago
Dear Adithia, Thanks for your interest. To answer your question allow me to do some parsing. There are several Greek approaches to the Theotokos. The Antiochene approach might be deemed very "low Mariology." Whether undue caution to attribute Mary too much because of reaction against Julian the Apostate making fun of "Theotokos", or -with Chrysostom- a thespian gift for drama in supposing that Mary needed to know about the nature of her pregnancy so she didn't despair and commit suicide [!], there were different early approaches to Mary before Ephesus, Constantinople II, and Lateran 649. Afterwards O/orthodox had only one option...Mary is the absolutely and unqualifiedly all-holy. However, in primitive Mariology, Nazianzen began a consistent and perfectly imitated "school" of thought on prepurification that did not admit of variation in interpretation as to what the term meant. Nazianzen was absolutely uninterested in question of conception because the liturgical calendar and controversies of the day did not occasion a diachronic or biographical journal of Mary's stages of holiness. As the liturgical calendar broadened in its celebration of Mary, so too did reflection on Mary's character and dispositions at each historico-liturgical moment. The same can be said about any controversy about Mary that involved a real or alleged historical moment of her life. By about 750, it was unquestionably heterodox -a prosecutable offense if you will (e.g., the trial of Maximus Confessor) to deny Marian dogmas of holy canons. Lateran and Constantinople II-III where the canonical sources in Damascene's first stab at trying to figure out how Mary was conceived of post-lapsarian sperm (Joachim) and ovum. He knew well (attested in the critical edition of his works) the N. African Fathers and their convocation that seed and flesh were the vehicles of death and passion from sexual pleasure as a symbol, if not cause, of a disordered act that would not have taken place in paradise. Maximus goes so far as to propose a quasi-virginal or otherworldly mode of human reproduction excluding post-lapsarian sexual differentiation and sexual intercourse. In this tradition Damascene (and Andrew of Crete) had to tackle the new fascination with Mary's conception. Damascene talked about a supernaturally cleansed sperm in Joachim and Anna womb "wider than heaven" (reminiscent of Mary's womb enable to hold the "uncontainable divinity" because of the Annunciation grace and intervention in utero of the Holy Spirit and Jesus) . For Damascene, this solution acts as foil to what he calls "original/ancestral fornication." So, from the biological tenor of your question, "Greek Fathers" are only interested from Damascene on, but I have not catalogued the number of Greek Fathers that took up the themes of Joachim's sperm and Anna's uterus afterwards. I also have not studied in depth Andrew of Crete's solution and whether, or not, it was the point of departure for a separate or parallel tradition. This would be a valuable study showing that Damascene's theological opinion did or did not have an impact on his successors. Jumping ahead, I have not found that Damascene's question to arise again (which does not mean that it did not!) until Palamas has to confront Augustine on original sin (similar to Maximus!) from 1341 +. His solution is ingenuous. He also uses Nazianzens Oration 27, 38, 45 to adjust the language that God gradually purified the wicked sperm from Adam until Joachim and Anna. Unlike the West that nowadays exalts Joseph the betrothed as the holiest human apart from Mary, Palamas' theory necessitated Joachim and Anna as the holiest in line with Damascene's spermatic and uterine solution. So the final cleansing of Adam's infected seed is by a special grace in their act of coitus that is passionless, so that Mary is born without corrupted flesh! Consequently Joachim and Anna are the holiest people in history...until Mary (and then John B). Lastly, I have not done enough study on "death + Mary." John Meyendorff made the claim that it is "Western" to claim Mary died only in "appropriate imitation of her son." Although I have not found any early fathers (late 4th century -Damascene) to contradict Meyendorff, one of Damascene's Dormition Homilies clearly refers to Mary's death as something "due" because of her son's example. I would need to dig up the wording. So, my guess is that Meyendorff's general idea stands in most cases but if Damascene has imitators (a likely event), then there are Greek Fathers that attribute Mary's death to "the imitation of Christ."

Christiaan Kappes
28 days ago
BTW thanks for the typo! It should be Constantinople II (553)!

Adithia Kusno
27 days ago
Rdr. Thomas Sandberg, thank you for the citation from St Nazianzen. The phrase, "[P]urified beforehand in both soul and flesh by the Spirit" is definitely alluding to a prenatal prepurification; but it doesn't necessitate a prepurification at the conception of Theotokos. The context is quite ambiguous and unclear. I think Nazianzen didn't specifically address that because there was no necessity to discuss it at the time when combatting Arians and Macedonians. Fr Christiaan Kappes, I agree with your comment that probably St Damascene is the first one to discuss the prepurification at the conception of Theotokos explicitly. Eastern fathers prior to Damascene seem to oscillate between Antiochian purification at Annunciation and Alexandrian prenatal purification. How would you explain St Chrysostom's Mariology (eg. Christ rebuked His mother at Cana)? It seems to contradict the idea of purification. Who do you think influenced St Augustine on his view that her purification takes place at Annunciation? Did he takes side with St Cyril's prenatal purification? It seems that Theodore of Mopsuestia (and the Antiochians) when defending Pelagius had no issue with his view on prenatal purification of Theotokos? Which I think is interesting because it shows fluidity even within the Antiochian school.

Christiaan Kappes
27 days ago
In context, Nazianzen's instances of prepurification are exclusively the speaking of Mary's reception of a divine elevation in grace just before producing the embryo (in Greek gynecological terms) of JC. Prepurificiation then begins to get applied to earlier moments in Mary's life as the grace of the Annunciation is opined to just be a repetition of earlier experiences. For example, the Palamite Theophanes of Nicaea designates Mary prepurified at her girlhood dedication and service in the temple. It is applied by Palamas even in Christological feasts, for example, Mary was purified by the Angel Gabriel at the tomb of the Ressurection. Finally, Joseph Bryennius correctly and univocally applies the term to Mary's moment of conception. In the first millennium it is only applied to the Annunciation, but the Palamite school was correctly understanding its applicability to any grace filled event in the life of Mary (viz., liturgical feast of Mary's glorification in this world). Damascene interchanges "purification" and "prepurificaiton" for Mary. Purificaiton means Either at the Annunciaiton Or after the Annunciation. Prepurification is ONLY at the Annunciation (in the first millennium). As far as I know Antiochene's do not discuss this grace of Mary with the technical term "prepurificaiton" at the moment called the Annunciation. If they do in Greek, I have never seen it, nor has Candal (1965). Secondly, it is possible that Syriac-Antiochene Fathers (e.g., Ephrem) predate even Nazianzen. I have found translations that say more or less the same. However, I have not looked at the original Syriac to confirm Ephrem as the first witness in that tradition. For Ephrem, however, purifying is a function of the Spirit in a manner quite close to Nazianzen. This likely has to do with ancient liturgy (epiclesis of Gospel of Thomas) and alternative version of the our Father (known to Gregory Nyssa) where "let the kingdom come" is actually translated "let thy Spirit come and purify." Whatever the Spirit does is purifying. Either it purifies what is already holy, elevating it (likes angels), or it takes what is soiled and cleanses it. After Ephrem, I have little doubt that Mary's purification is ubiquitous. Even the Christian sources for the Muslim Koran speak of Mary's "purification" though she is without any sin. This tradition was absorbed in tandem by semitic speaking peoples and is likely much older the Nazianzen since Ephrem is a generation older. The "low Mariology" concerns Greek writers such as Diodore of Tarsus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Nestorius. Chrysostom is from this place and tradition. Perhaps because of a caution from the 363 or so fights with Julian the Apostate over the title Theotokos, Chrysostom uses it but reservedly. However, his willingness to say about 4-5 things that are nowadays insulting to Mary stems from a low Mariology and from what I see as a preacher's penchant to take biblical personalities and actually graft onto to them his occurring pastoral problems. In other words, DID CHRYSOSTOM REALLY THINK MARY WAS A SUICIDE RISK? Hardly, but he had so many pastoral problems with this when girls got pregnant out of wedlock that he may be trying to relate occurrences in his own cathedral to situations that NT characters found themselves in. This is just a guess. The earlier freedom to diminish Mary's role and virtue effectively ends with Ephesus, since only a Nestorian (and Antiochene) would predicate taint to Mary's person, body, or soul. My article to the left specifically addresses who and how Augustine was influenced: by Nazianzen's Theophany oration and N. African predecessors talking about sexual sin. I have not studied what Cyril's ideas are on how to cleanse someone of sin in the womb (e.g., John Baptist). I can only say that my other article-draft on this question demonstrates that Cyril was much closer to Augustine on original sin than to any Eastern Father other than Maximus the Confessor. In fact, I would say that Cyril's correspondences with Augustine might turn out to be the key to understanding how Cyril cited the Vetus Latina version of Rom 5:12 "[Adam] in quo omnes peccaverunt" or Adam in whom all sinned. So far as I know, Cyril does not use the Greek term "prokathartheisa" or some form of "prokathairo" at the Annunciation in association with Mary

Trent Pomplun
14 days ago
Dear Chris, I'm quite late to this discussion, but I wanted to thank you for this wonderful paper. It is worth noting that Western theologians who accepted the Immaculate Conception after Duns Scotus continued to speak of these episodic "purifications" in the life of Mary as visions of the Triune God, given at the Annunciation, the Birth of the Savior, at the foot of the Cross, etc. (The paradigmatic theological case is Francisco Suarez, De mysteriis vitae Christi.) These traditions were developed to a great degree in Spanish mysticism and exegesis during the seventeenth century, especially in the many lives of Mary that circulated in Franciscan circles. I haven't looked at that material in a long while, but it corresponds with a greater awareness of the Greek Fathers coming via the many new editions of the Fathers. In this regard, East and West were not, however, two ships passing in the night. That is an illusion brought about largely be the projection of early-twentieth-century neo-Thomism backwards. As it turns out, not only did East and West "meet" on the issue of the Immaculate Conception in the generation after Scotus (as we have spoken about at great length), but that the West continued to read and learn from the East, theologically and mystically. In short, the older notions of prepurification found their place in baroque Catholicism as necessary theologoumena in the doctrine of the absolute predestination of Christ and Mary. It is no coincidence, then, that Franciscans and Jesuits who taught the absolute predestination of Christ and Mary are often said to have "Eastern" notions of grace and predestination. Cheers (and thanks again)! Trent

Christiaan Kappes
14 days ago
Dear Trent, Thanks for your comments as always. Before I was exposed to importance of the voluminous works of the 17th-18th Scotists, I did not know such talented theologians existed. More importantly has been your pointing out the fact that -Scholasticism's medieval Achilles' heel [ i.e., the total lack of incorporation of new Latin translation of Greek Fathers (along with the Renaissance Schoolmen), and the important recourse to the inspired (Greek) text of the NT along with the original texts of the Fathers in Greek] was finally supplied for with the Enlightenment Scotists. Secondly, I found (with only a small footnote at the end of my Immaculate Conception in my ps-quaestio disputata) a Ps.-Bernardinian work -a homily on Mary's conception- where both Annunciation and Pentecost were described as moment of purification in an all-positive sense. This is the earliest purely latin witness (I think the preparatory critical examen of Bernardine's works lists it at 15th century) to a proper understanding of Mary's purification in the Greek mode. Before, I have found nothing. So, it sounds like the Scotists may have finally absorbed this preferred option that is the only historically correct way to understand the term. I too find with Gregory Palamas that his uncanny parallels with Francis Mayron (Mary's use of reason in utero), appeals to exception to rules in Enoch and Elijah, etc., cannot be explained by textual dependence, but can only be explained on the reasoning of absolute primacy or the Incarnation super omnia. In fact, in class on Mariology today, we read through Palamas' Homily 2 on the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple. Palamas explicitly praises "first philosophy" (even if limited) and supposes that Mary's superior intellect had went through all the metaphysical and physics puzzles of the philosophers and found them to not understand uncreated graced and the "uncreated light of the divinity." As a result, he explains that Mary's own fiat had to do with her metaphysical insights + her acts of supernatural virtue that led her to the Incarnation in herself. He even goes so far to call her a "representative of the entire human save us" and that she reasoned to consider herself "a self-appointed ambassador -but then followed up by a reference to the divine plan" for all humans to God to be saved from the original curse.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Metis Federation of Canada

I posted the video found here on Facebook yesterday with the following words,
To all Métis: do not join the so-called 'Metis Federation of Canada,' they have nothing to do with the Métis National Council are are subversive. Why would APTN give them a platform?
For my non-Aboriginal readers I have supplied this link for a little background to some of what is mentione in the first link's video. I will develope this post as I have time and the situation worsens.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Thursday, 5 May 2016

No Such Thing as 'The Bible' in Christianity Until Protestants Invented It (Updated on Wednesday 28 June 2017)

This topic came up the other night in a late night theological discussion I was apart of, so I figured it was time to edit this post, as this is a topic I have been teaching my Sunday School students for years, and what I've been elaborating on it in my responses to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada)'s First Principles course... so when I can across this piece by Met. Isaiah I was ecstatic, for here was someone saying what I was saying--and a Metropolitan, no less! 

Due to this article not being found on the Metropolis of Denver's website I have decided to post it here, so as for it not to be lost, as I have only found it posted twice in all of the internet.

Can You Tell Me Which Translation The Eastern Orthodox Church Uses and Why? 
by His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Proikonisou and Presiding Hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver

The actual title of this presentation written by His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah is titled: "Which English Translation Of The Bible Should I Use"? This outstanding article has appeared in the Diocesan Bulletin of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver.

Christianity in America is often characterized as a faith of the "Bible-thumpers." Our cities are indeed filled with "Bible churches" and the Holy Scriptures are widely assumed to be the basis of Christianity itself.
In response to this, either out of sense of "catching up" or to confront the more outlandish claims (sometimes against Orthodoxy) of fundamentalist, Bible based "Christianity" most of our Orthodox parishes hold regular "Bible study" classes.

Faithful Orthodox believers who come to these classes, and even their pastors, are quickly confronted with a vast array of Bible translations, and Bibles themselves come in all colors, sizes, shapes, and with without "study helps".

To some, the very Bible itself seems wrapped in veritable "tower of Babel" with every one we meet seeming to quote Scripture passages just a little bit differently -- and some who denounce one translation while extolling another.

To answer the question posed as the title of this article, however, we must first examine what the Bible is, and then examine its various sources and translations.
Strictly Speaking, there never was a "Bible" in the Orthodox Church. At least not as we commonly think of the Bible as az single volume book we can hold in our hand. Since the beginning of the Church, from the start of our liturgical tradition, there has never been a single book in an Orthodox church we could point to as "the Bible".

Instead the various "Books" of the Bible are found scattered throughout several service books located either on the Holy Altar itself, or at the chanter"s stand. The Gospels (or their pericopes) are complied into a single volume -- usually bound in precious metal and richly decorated -- placed on the Holy Altar.
The Epistles (or, again, their pericopes) are bound together in another book, called the Apostolos, which is normally found at the changer"s stand.  Usually located next to the Apostolos on the chanter"s shelf are the twelve volumes of the Menaion, as well as the books called the Triodion and Pentekostarion, containing various segments of the Old and the New Testaments.

The fact that there is no "Bible" in the church should not surprise us, since our liturgical tradition is a continuation of the practices of the early Church, when the Gospels and the letters from the Apostles (the Epistles) had been freshly written and copied for distribution to the Christian communities.

The "Hebrew Scriptures" (what we now call the "Old Testament", comprising the Law (the first five books) and the Prophets, were likewise written on various scrolls, just as they were found in the Jewish synagogues.
The Church is NOT Based on the Bible. Rather, the Bible is a product of the Church. For the first few centuries of the Christian era, no one could have put his hands on a single volume called "The Bible." In fact, there was no one put his hands on a single volume called "The Bible." In fact, there was no agreement regarding which "books" of Scripture were to be considered accurate and correct, or canonical.

Looking back over history, there were various "lists" of the canonical "books" comprising the Bible:
  • The Muratorian Canon (130 AD) cities all the books we considered as parts of the Bible today, except for Hebrews, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation/Apocalypse
  • Canon 60 of the local Council of Laodicea (364 AD) cited Revelation/Apocalypse
  • A festal Epistle by Saint Athanasius (369 AD) lists all of them.
Even so, there was no official, authoritative "canon" listing all the books until the Sixth Ecumenical Council, at Constantinople in 680 AD. Canon II of that Council ratifies the First through the Fifth Ecumenical Councils, as well as the local councils at Carthage (255 AD), Ancyra (315 AD), Neocaesaria (315 AD), Gangra (340 AD), Antioch (341 AD), Laodicea (364 A), Sardica (347 AD), Constantinople (394 AD), and Carthage (419 AD).

When the Council at Laodicea specified the content of the bible as we know it - 39 years after the First Ecumenical Council (325 AD) and 17 years before the second Ecumenical Council (381 AD) - the Liturgy was pretty much well-defined and established and had been "canonized" by common usage the reading from these books.

It was not until the invention of the printing press in Western Europe, coinciding with the period of the Protestant Reformation of Western Christianity that "The Bible" was widely disseminated as a single volume.
The "Protestant" Old Testament in Antithetical to Christian Truth.  When Protestant Western Christians reviewed the canonical books of Scripture, they adopted the "Hebrew Canon" accepted by the Jews since 100 AD.

The so-called Apocrypha, or Deuterocanonical, books (found in "Catholic" and "Orthodox" versions of the Bible) were a problem for Jews living after the time of Christ, since they often very clearly prophesy concerning Our Lord, and indicate His divinity.

Some of the books were also problematic for both the Jews and the Protestants because they make prophetically evident the special role of the Theotokos in the oikonomia of salvation.  In fact, the Orthodox Fathers cite passages quite effectively to discuss the Church"s understanding of the role of the Theotokos.
Also, they only scriptural reference to praying for the dead is found in a Deuterocanonical Book: viz., Maccabees.

Not surprisingly, these Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books were rejected from the "canon" of books indicated in the Jewish Scriptures.  This canon was formally pronounced by a rabbinical council at Jamnia (c. 100 AD), which stated that all canonical Scripture had to have been written: in Palestine, in Hebrew (not Greek), and more then 400 years prior (300 BC) to that time.

In addition, the authorized Hebrew "translation" was at variance with the accepted Septuagint Greek versions, which had been prepared by 72 translators accepted Septuagint Greek version, which had been prepared by 72 translators working in Alexandria Egypt.

This is significant, because the Apostles, who were the authors of the New Testament, as well as the early Church Fathers, frequently cite passages only found in the Septuagint (Greek) Old Testament that have significant differences in meaning from the Hebrew.  Moreover, they frequently cite passages from the "Apocryphal" books of the Old Testament.

The Holy Scriptures Were Produced by the Orthodox Church.  The Church"s [sic] holy prophets and Apostles wrote the books contained in the Bible. The Church determined which books were authoritative and belonged in Holy Scripture. The Church preserved and passed on the texts of these Scriptural books.
The seventy-two Jewish rabbis and scholars who gave us the Septuagint Greek Old Testament, produced seventy-two identical Greek translations working independently and in insolation from one another.  Writing in Greek, the Holy Apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude produced the books of the New Testament.

The Holy Scriptures Were Preserved by the Orthodox Church.  These books and letters were studied, copied, collected, recopied, passed from group of early Christians to another, and read in the services of the Church.

Testimony to the fidelity of reproduction in this milieu is the consistent agreement among the Church Fathers when they cite Scripture, and their common understanding of Scripture in their deliberations at the local and Ecumenical councils.

Over the centuries, alterations crept into some manuscripts.  Sometimes the texts were altered by accident (e.g.., mistakes made in copying these books by hand).  At other times intentional alterations were made, either by misguided but innocent copyists who thought they were correcting errors in the manuscripts they were working from, or by heretics who full intended to change the words of Scripture to suit their purposes.
The Church, however, guided by the Holy Spirit, distinguished between authentic and inauthentic manuscripts, discarding or ignoring the latter, copying and handing on the former.

Even today we see the authentic words of Scripture preserved.  When a young priest or a chanter mispronounces a word in its original Greek, there will be a Bishop, an older priest -- or even a venerable Orthodox "grandmother" -- who will be quick to point out the aberration from the way the text "has always been sung or read"!

The Authentic Greek Text of the Bible is Preserved by the Orthodox Church.  When translating the New Testament into English, there are many Greek manuscripts to choose from.  To ask, "What does the original Greek say?" is to beg the question, which Greek text?

For Orthodox Christians this is a very easy question to answer.  We simply use the Greek text handed down within the Orthodox Church which has been proven consistent by 2000 years of liturgical use and which the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has given us.

To Scripture scholars there is a huge body of ancient Greek manuscripts, known as the Byzantine text-type, which embodies the Orthodox textual tradition.  These old manuscripts and lectionaries differ very little from each other, and are indeed in overwhelming agreement with each other throughout the whole New Testament.  Furthermore, they are great in number and comprise the vast majority of existing Greek manuscripts.

There is Another, Bogus, Greek Text of the Bible.  Beside the Byzantine text-type family of manusciprts, there is a minor collection of Greek Scripture texts which are very old, and sometimes predate the Byzantine texts by hundreds of years.

In the middle of the last century, "modern" Scripture scholars, or critics, determined that newly-"discovered" ancient texts -- such as the Codex Sinaiticus, the Alexandrian Codex, the Codex Ephraemi rescriptus -- dating from the fourth through the sixth centuries, had determining authority in establishing the original text of the Gospels and the words of the Lord.

Criticism was leveled against these critics by other scholars who maintained that the older manuscripts had been preserved through the ages precisely because they were set aside and unused since they were inferior copies -- obvious from the ineptitude of the hands that wrote them  and the many misspellings.

They argued that it was hardly logical to prefer inferior texts from one text family over the received Byzantine texts were in agreement.  Furthermore, they noted that the received text has even more ancient parallels -- in second century Syriac and Latin versions -- and is widely quoted in the Fathers.

Even papyrus fragments from the first century bear out the veracity of the Byzantine text, and refute the validity of the older texts.

Amazingly - indeed, even unbelievably - most modern translators work from an "eclectic" or "critical text, which draws very heavily from the older Codices. This eclectic text is a patchwork of readings from the various manuscripts which differ from each other and from the Byzantine text.

Any Greek Orthodox Christian can take a copy of the Nestle-Aland critical (eclectic) text into church, and compare the Epistles with those in the Apostolos - they differ, often, radically, in hundreds of places, not only in words and word order, but also in tenses and meanings!

The same comparison can be made between an English translation of the Psalms and the Greek version found in the Orologion - they differ in thousands of places.  The English has often been translated from the Hebrew Masoretic text which was compiled by Jewish scholars during the first ten centuries after Christ.  These scholars used inferior texts or edited them to delete or minimize the messianic prophecies or types which refer to Christ.

Surprisingly, this Hebrew version of the Psalms is used even though the Greek Septuagint is often used to decipher the Masoretic text which is often unintelligible since the vowels are not indicated.

Most Modern English Bible Translations are Based on Bogus Versions of the Scriptures. Unfortunately, no English translation of the Bible has been made using the Byzantine text-type manuscripts of the New Testament since the King James Version (KJV) in 1611.  The others are all based on the eclectic Greek New Testament manuscripts and various Hebrew Old Testament texts.

The bottom line is that manuscripts which the Orthodox Church did not use or copy have been elevated above those texts which the Church has preserved by modern and contemporary Scripture scholars and translators.

Sadly - but perhaps significantly indicative - is the fact that the scholars who put together those eclectic critical texts decisively reject the Byzantine (that is to say, Orthodox) text-type, claiming that the Byzantine text was corrupted by Orthodox copyists eager to conform the text of Scripture to Orthodox theology as it developed over the first several centuries of the Church"s life.

The Orthodox Stand on the Critical Eclectic Texts.  As Orthodox, we cannot believe that the text of Scripture is arbitrary and governed only by human considerations - especially those of modern scholars who decide what is and what is not "authentic."  We see the presence of God and His providence in our daily lives; how can they be denied to exist in the Church and in the canon and text of the Holy Scriptures?  Otherwise everything in our liturgical worship is suspect and unreliable.

The human element cannot be ignored or denied, but neither can the divine.  Yet most biblical scholars and textual critics wish to disregard any form of divine intervention or revelation in order to make their study "scientific."  In fact, present-day biblical scholarship hides its fundamental unbelief from believers and even from itself.  It ultimately results in such ludicrous claims that Jesus Christ never spoke any of the words recorded in the Bible - claims that make the front page of national news magazines and mislead millions of people.

Perhaps the best example of the modern "scholars" bias is found in the first chapter, first verse of the Gospel of Mark: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God"  The modernists drop the words "the Son of God" because they are absent from the Codex Sinaiticus and papyrus miniscules 28 and 255.  Yet they appear in all other copies and versions and in many quotations of the fathers!
Modern Translations Obscure the Divinity of Christ.  In what can only be a return to the ancient heresy of Arius, even the much touted 1952 Revised Standard Version (RSV) translation of Scripture tends to minimize Christ's divine nature.

Forty years ago the King James translation was widely impugned for being based on the Greek Byzantine texts which were called corrupt - an amazing accusation considering the pedigree of the eclectic critical texts.

In the liberal theological milieu of that time, many Protestant theologians denied not only the virgin birth, but also the divinity of Christ and His resurrection.

One curious feature of the RSV translation is its apparent mixture of old and new English; the older traditional second person singular pronoun, thou/thee/thy, is intermixed with the nondescript modern ye/you/you.  While at first glance this seems chaotic, it actually serves as a hidden code.

The traditional "thou" usage is employed when God is addressed, but "you" whenever anyone else is addressed.  Note, for example, that the Our Father in the RSV retains the word "thy" in referring to God"s name, kingdom, and will.

But note that in the RSV translation a leper addresses Jesus in Mark 1:40, Saying "If you will, you can make me clean," and Peter says in Matthew 16:16, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
The only time in the RSV that Christ is addressed as "Thou" is after He is no longer on earth, but even this is found mainly in Hebrews when Paul quotes from the Old Testament.

The clearly Protestant bias against the Theotokos, and her Orthodox definition as critical to preserving the divinity of Christ is also very evident in the RSV.  Consider Matthew 1:25:
LJK: "(Joseph) knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son; and he called his name Jesus."
RSV: "(Joseph) knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus."
From the Byzantine, Orthodox, texts, the KJV tells us that Mary brought forth not a son, but her firstborn - precluding her having had previous children.

Moreover, He is clearly her son; but not Joseph"s.  Note how the RSV is distinguished from the KJV in Luke 2:33; after Simeon returned Jesus to His mother, the narrative tells us:
KJV: "Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him."
RSV: "And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him."
The RSV infers that Joseph is Jesus" father, presumably his biological father - a clear refutation of the dogma of virgin birth.

Or again, consider the following notable omission in John 3:13 according to the RSV:
KJV: "No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."
RSV: "No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of  man."
The Byzantine text is clearly reflected in the KJV; the eclectic text by the RSV.  Yet only a tiny handful of manuscripts omit the expression "which is in heaven." while the vast majority of manuscripts include it, as do the quotations of Church fathers such as Saint Basil the Great, Saint Hilary, Saint John Chrysostom, and Saint Cyril.

This particular Scripture text is the clearest witness to the Orthodox teaching that Christ is fully man while not being circumscribed in any way as God, since it indicates that Christ was simultaneously on earth in the body and in heaven with the Father. It also indicates, contrary to modern liberal theology, that our Lord knew very well just Who He was, where He came from, and what business He was about.

There are many more examples, but let us simply note one more, I Corinthians 15:47, which needs no further comment:
KJV: "The first man is of the earth, earthly: the second man is the Lord from heaven."
RSV: "The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven."

The Corruption of "Paraphrased" Bibles.  There is no need in this article to provide such critical analysis of the various other translations which followed the RSV (e.g, NIV, NAB); all are even more flawed.  A comment should be made, however, of several very dangerous paraphrased "versions" of the Bible, such as "Today"s English Version" and the volume sold as "The Book."

If the Scripture scholars can criticize the Byzantine copyists for corrupting the text to conform to Orthodox theology, what are we to say about the non Orthodox paraphrases who have radically altered not only text, but the whole meaning of various passages?

These "Bibles" are to be totally and completely avoided by the Orthodox; they have no good purpose whatsoever because they are gross distortions of the truth, and serve only to infiltrate a completely corrupted theology into the minds of the faithful.

The Orthodox Witness.  One very interesting question, never asked, is this: "If scholars are willing to assemble an eclectic text out of Scripture fragments from various sources - often of unknown doctrinal origin or authority - why haven"t they ever considered the living archeological evidence of Scripture segments that have been repeated faithfully for ages in the Orthodox Liturgy?"

Why haven"t serious modern scholars considered the incredible coincidence that 72 Hebrew scholars could all translate the Old Testament in exactly the same manner into the Septuagint Greek?

Why haven"t they examined the translation of the Scriptures done a thousand years ago from Greek into Slavonic, which has preserved exactly, accurately, and precisely the meaning of the Greek original?  And, more to the point, if errors have crept in and accumulated as texts were copied over the years, why aren"t the existing copies of these Greek and Slavonic Scriptures divergent?

Non-Orthodox scholars cannot answer these questions because, to do so honestly and truthfully, they would have to admit that in fact the Orthodox Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has preserved intact and correctly the Holy Scriptures.  And, moreover, this preservation is in part assured by the dogma and doctrine of the Church which both draw from the Scripture and provide evidence and support of its truth.
What Translation Should I Use?  The answer is this: the King James Version (KJV) is the most reliable and faithful English translation,  Unfortunately, it is written in an archaic, 500 year old style of English.  Although not as incomprehensible as the 2000 year old Greek of the New Testament and Liturgy is to modern Greek speakers, it is still awkward and difficult for many to understand.

The real question that begs - indeed pleads - for an answer, is this: "Why hasn"t [sic] the Greek Orthodox Church sponsored an accurate translation into modern English from the Byzantine texts and extant fragments of Scripture found in the liturgy of the Church?"

(All of the above [sic], except paragraph spacing, as it appears via the link below.)

[Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Isaiah of Proikonisou, 'Can You Tell Me Which Translation The Eastern Orthodox Church Uses and Why?', Greek Orthodox Diocese of Denver Bulletin, March 1995, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 14-17, Retrieved on 5 May 2016 from <>]


The Eastern Orthodox Approach to the Bible - transcript - podcast

[here I will later add a comment on Brenton and the E/GOB]