1551Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Higher Critical method in Orthodoxy
- Mar 30, 2010Fr. Seraphim Rose argues for creationism in his *Genesis, Creation and Early
Man*. Others argue that evolution is acceptable given the patristic
interpretation of the Genesis accounts of creation. Peter Bouteneff's
Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives* tracks these
Both sides agree that the Fathers often read Genesis primarily as a document
concerned with facts other and beyond the literal. The question is whether
the literal applies in this case, or not. The same question arose in the
West regarding whether the Bible meant the sun itself literally rose and set
rather than the earth revolving and making it look as if the sun was
moving. Same with language about God's arm, as well as his anger (see St.
John Cassian's *Institutes*, Book VIII, "Of the Spirit of Anger".)
The primary difference between liberal protestantism's view of Genesis is
that the Orthodox Church grounds its understanding - either way - on a quite
stable, very old, tried and true reading of Genesis in a 'spiritual',
typological or allegorical way over and sometimes against a literal or
historicist reading of the same text. Liberals represent a far from stable
or ancient way of reading Scripture.
The slippery slope argument isn't as important given the time tested
stability of the patristic view, and its diversity. Also, the Bible isn't
supposed to be easily understood by the average reader and it isn't the sole
or primary data set upon which all authority is based. For Protestants,
once one piece of the Bible is called into question (or, more to the point,
it's perspicacity or that denomination's relatively recent interpretation of
the text in question), then everything's up for grabs.
I also discussed a bit of this in my *Solum Corpus Christi: The Authority of
Scripture in the Orthodox Church, for
I have found Fr. John Behr's arguments that the beginning and end of all
Scripture, New and Old Testaments, begins historically with the Cross and
Resurrection to be quite helpful in this regard. Everything in the OT then
comes, in some sense, after the Cross and Resurrection - after the lamb was
slain before the beginning of the world. It takes one outside of a
historicist view of Scripture, which saves one also from a materialist
belief in Christ whereby only those things that are measureable are 'real'
or 'really happened'. Icons show us the unseen reality of each event and of
each person, e.g., their halo. Another example is the Transfiguration of
Christ. More to the point, it was the opening of the eyes of the three
Disciples - Christ didn't change, the unseen reality of his Divinity was
revealed to the Disciples "as far as they could bear it". But, a
materialist belief (and a materialist disbelief) would only accept as 'real'
what most people 'saw' Jesus as in his daily life - but we know this isn't
We don't believe in a data set, but in the Body of Christ Himself.
On Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 12:19 PM, Oruaseht <oruaseht@...> wrote:
> I'm currently reading Timothy Ware's "The Orthodox Church." One of the
footnotes in the book, p.218, says:
> "The opening chapters of Genesis are of course concerned with certain
religious truths, and are not to be taken as literal history. Fifteen
centuries before modern Biblical criticism, Greek Fathers were already
interpreting the Creation and Paradise stories symbolically rather than
> This smacks of liberal protestantism, the kind I rebelled against in
Seminary. Next thing you know, Jesus didn't rise from the tomb, because He
was actually a transexual Nazi Eskimo who didn't exist.
> Does Timothy Ware speak for all of Orthodoxy in this footnote?
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