What is the Holy Scripture?
Excerpt from the book Studime mni Ortodoksinë
by Father George C. Papademetriou, 2012.
Rule of Faith
In my experience as a priest, I have noticed that many Orthodox believers are not well informed about the Scriptures. This prompted me to briefly outline the teachings that pertain to our Holy Bible and the ways in which we, Orthodox Christians, understand the Truth as Him Whom has been revealed to us in the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The rule of faith we maintain is both Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic. The rule of faith flows from two well-springs: Holy Tradition and the Holy Bible. Both of these sources of Divine Revelation have an equal authority and importance in the life of the Church. For this reason, every true Orthodox Christian should know what the Church teaches us about the sources of our sacred faith. Holy Tradition is an unbroken continuity with the teachings of the Apostles that are passed down to us through the teachings of the Holy Fathers. The Tradition of the Holy Church is true because it is Apostolic, in other words, it is in accordance with the doctrine of the Apostles.
The Holy Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament are the written word of God. In this short article, I will try to explain the Orthodox Christian teachings related to the Holy Bible and its very important role in Orthodox Christian spiritual devotion. My goal is to inform Orthodox believers about the Holy Scriptures in this short summary.
Note: The composite term used herein, "Orthodox Catholic," highlights and expresses the universal character of our Church and her mission. This refers then to the Church which was founded by Jesus Christ. It is the same Church spread by the Holy Apostles. It is also the same Church that was protected by the Holy Martyrs and the Holy Fathers. That same Church formulated its true Faith through the Ecumenical Synods. The Church is "Orthodox Catholic" as we confess in the Symbol of Faith.
The Holy Bible and the Faithful
Our Holy Orthodox Church emphasizes the frequent use of Scripture in our Church worship and personal study at home. However, the interpretation of the Scriptures must be done in accordance with the "mind of the Church." When a person tries to interpret the Scriptures according to his own mind and judgment, that person risks making serious mistakes out of pride and arrogance. Our father among the saints, St. John Chrysostom, compares the Holy Bible to medicine. Used properly, the Bible is the medicine to heal our souls and can lead us safely to well-being and salvation, while ignorance of the Scriptures can lead to spiritual destruction. Study of the Holy Scriptures is necessary for the uplifting and enlightenment of the spiritual life of every man in Christ. The Church wants everyone who follows Jesus Christ as their Savior to possess and use the word of God. As a result, the Gospel symbolizes the Son of God incarnate. When the Gospel is read liturgically in the Church, the faithful stand to honor the proclamation of the Good News.
Much disinformation has been disseminated in the media in recent years about the holy books of the Bible. Uninformed Christians carelessly repeat what they have read in the newspapers. The ignorance of such Christians, of course, can be dangerous. We must not only read about the Bible, but must delve into the depths of that encounter with Him Whom is the Truth of God, as expressed in the Bible, by reading the Scriptures ourselves. Much has also been said about the so-called "lost books of the Bible." However, this is a false statement. The Bible is complete just as "it was delivered to the saints," and they to us. None of the true books of the Holy Bible have ever been lost. The Church created the Holy Bible and has kept it complete and unchanged throughout time. The so-called "lost books of the Bible" were apocryphal books that were rejected by the Church since the beginning. The Bible is preserved in the Church as a living testimony of Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Scripture, Christians of all ages have been led to eternal life.
Official Version of the Bible in our Church
The Orthodox Church uses the Greek versions of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint, and the New Testament. The Septuagint was translated by 72 Hebrew scholars in Egypt during the third century BC in the reign of Ptolemy II. This version was the text widely used by the Jews in the synagogues during the time of Our blessed Lord, and He used this variant when quoting from the Scripture. The holy apostles used this translation and quoted extensively from it in their writings in the books of the New Testament. Thus, it is the Greek Bible which the Church has used since the beginning. The Apostles wrote in Greek because it was the universal language of that time. Thus, the Holy Fathers and the Catholic Orthodox Church have used the Septuagint-version of the Old Testament and the original Greek version of the New Testament. Today, our Church likewise adheres to its authenticity. However, our Church has not announced an official version of the translation into Albanian. This translation is expected to be a great help to the Catholic Orthodox Church in English and in the countries of the diaspora. This will enrich the spirit of Orthodoxy by having a translation of the Holy Bible made by Orthodox theologians. Hopefully, such a translation will be considered by beloved Church leaders and will soon become a reality. For the time being, I recommend that Orthodox believers use the common Bible (Catholic version) for study and meditation.
Why two testaments?
You may ask why the Bible has two Testaments, or covenants. The Holy Bible is a collection, or rather two collections of books of our sacred faith. The first collection was made before the incarnation of our Lord. It was inherited by the Orthodox Church and by Judaism, who are the chosen people for the coming and abiding in the world of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. However, it is the ongoing mission of the Church to teach all nations. The New Testament, as the Word of God speaks of Him who founded the Church and promised that even "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," "to the ends of the world."
Rreth kësaj serie artikujsh
Studime mbi Orthodhoksinë, prezantohet këtu për të informuar ata njerëz që nuk janë krishterë orthodhoksë, por që po konsiderojnë pagëzimin dhe Krishtërimin të bëhen anëtarë të Kishës Orthodhokse, si dhe për të gjithë ata që dëshirojnë të thellojnë njohuritë e tyre të adhurimi hyjnor dhe tradita Apostolike.
Ato u shkruan nga At George C. Papademetriou, profesor i fakultetit të Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School në Brookline, Massachusetts.