Creation As Harmony And Unity

If the 'powers' of God pervade creation, then we would expect the created world itself to be constantly making him manifest and drawing us to him,-and this is a recurrent theme in the Cappadocian Fathers. A sustained example is Basil's Hexaemeron, a set of sermons on the six days of creation celebrating the variety and dynamism of a world where the Creator has 'left everywhere visible memorials of His wonders'.8 The Cappadocians use the Platonist language of their day,and the modern reader, to...

Convergence And Renewal

The Russian revolution was the decisive event for modern Orthodoxy, ushering in a new 'age of martyrs' for most of the Orthodox Church. Furthermore, the emigration following the revolution meant that the heirs to the intellectual ferment of the nineteenth century were largely scattered abroad. Many Russians fled to the Baltic states, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. But the centre of the emigration was Paris, where the St Sergius Institute of Orthodox Theology (founded 1926) and the Russian YMCA Press...

The Filioque Question

This brings us to the controversy over the filioque, the Western addition to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed stating that the Holy Spirit 'proceeds from the Father and the Son'. As an Orthodox theologian, I consider the Augustinian and Thomist doctrines on the filioque to be incomplete, rather than erroneous or heretical. The intuitions of the patristic and Byzantine tradition, extending from the Cappadocian Fathers to Gregory of Cyprus and culminating in the creative work of St Gregory...

The Trinitarian Being Of The Church

From its origins, the Church is an epiphany of the divine will for salvation, life and eternal communion. If God is Trinity, then man, created in his image and likeness, is not only an individual, but also a trinitarian communion. 'It is not good for the man to be alone' - these words in Genesis 2 18 do not merely concern a human couple in paradise they express a reality inherent to human beings who are by nature and vocation beings of communion. We find here the roots of an ecclesiology that...

Royal Dignity

As bearers of God's image, all men and women are endowed with royal dignity. To be sure, St Basil is careful to keep a balance. He warns the proud to reflect on the earth from which they were made and the poor to reflect that dignitaries who intimidate them are also made from the earth. Yet he also encourages the poor not to envy the rich, since they too are endowed with all the gifts of the divine image.24 Early Christians such as St Gregory of Nazianzus and St John Chrysostom challenged Roman...

The Divinity Of The Holy Spirit

The defence of the divinity of the Son in the course of the fourth century necessarily led the Fathers to confess the divinity of the Holy Spirit and to recall his action in creation, in the life of the Church, and in the personal sanctification of the faithful. The Son and the Holy Spirit, in their joint activity in the world, were visualised by Irenaeus and other early Fathers in an economic sense as 'the two Hands of the Father'.8 It was at the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (ad...

The Shaping Of Trinitarian Doctrine And Language

Patristic writings, in continuity with the New Testament, reflect the Church's faith in Jesus Christ, dead and risen. It is from the core of a chris-tological approach that the trinitarian vision of the apostolic Fathers and their successors unfolds. Likewise, the Spirit is known by his advent at Pentecost and by his permanent indwelling of the Church. He is the Giver of new life, that is, the life in Christ, and of prophetic and charismatic gifts (cf. Acts and i Cor) in the context of an...

The Language Of Christology

Many, if not most, of the dimensions of salvation in Christ enumerated above are believed by Christians across confessional lines. But Orthodoxy's insistence on adherence to the precise and often technical definitions of the person of Christ is perhaps unique in its strength and persistence through the ages to the present. There are important reasons for that insistence, some of which follow from how Orthodox Christians understand the nature of theology and Church tradition. The chief reason...

Matthew Steenberg

Much as Orthodox theology is understood as the mystical encounter with the incarnate Christ, Son of the eternal Father, through the Spirit of Truth, so Orthodox ecclesiology is understood in incarnational and trinitarian terms. The Church is the body of Christ, offered 'for the life of the world',1 in which the world finds life through communion with its incarnate Lord. It is first and foremost in the meeting of divine and human, of uncreated and created, in the Incarnation of the Son that the...

The Trinity In Worship And Sacraments

Immersed as they are in the ecclesial and sacramental experience of the trinitarian mystery, the Fathers and teachers of the Church have also tried through the ages to formulate this mystery in rational and conceptual language. They have defended it against trinitarian heresies by means of conciliar formulations, and they have expounded it in theological and dogmatic treatises - not without fear and reticence about approaching unfathomable depths with a human language which is always...

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev

All religions contain an eschatological dimension since they are directed not only towards the reality of the material world, but also to the spiritual world not only to the present age, but also towards the future. In Christianity, however, eschatology plays such an essential role that, without the eschatological dimension, Christianity loses its meaning. Eschatology permeates the entire life of the Church its services, sacraments and rites, its theological and moral doctrine, its asceticism...

Sophiology And Its Legacy

The created order became a focus of theological interest in modern times as a result of the 'sophiological' speculations of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This movement is associated especially with the names of Vladimir Soloviev, Pavel Florensky and Sergei Bulgakov. It can be seen as a reaction against post-Enlightenment rationalism, against a dualism that opposes faith and reason, spiritual and empirical, and indeed it drew inspiration from Western reactions to those...

Notes on contributors

Dr Nicolas Abou Mrad is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Saint John of Damascus Faculty of Theology, University of Balamand Lebanon , and Lecturer at various non-Orthodox theological schools in Lebanon. He is author of various articles and reviews in biblical theology and literature. The Rt Revd Dr Hilarion Alfeyev holds doctorates from Oxford and Paris. He is currently the Moscow Patriarchate's Bishop of Austria and Representative to the European Institutions. He has published widely...

Info

That is depicted, however, provides the icon with its sacred meaning and presence. Because it represents an image of the transfigured, or divinised, world, the icon acts as a window, or passageway, between human beings and God. As mediators of divine reality, icons represent focal points of prayer in the Orthodox Church. They are not intended to leave us passive and, indeed, they are not themselves passive. 'We do not watch like passive spectators', writes Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, 'but...

An Ecclesial Cosmology

The images that we use for the cosmos are important. We have seen over recent centuries the effects of a mechanistic model, followed by efforts to redress the balance by introducing more organic metaphors. The images that have predominated in Orthodox thought are essentially ecclesial. The Orthodox understanding has been variously described as sacramental cosmology, eucharistic cosmology or cosmic liturgy, but the common factor is summed up in Maximus's words, 'the world is a church'.40 It is...

The Mutual Interdependence Of Bible And Liturgy

The official evidence for the authority and primacy of scripture is its canonisation as a sacred corpus in the Church's tradition over the first four centuries of church life. What is the essential content and purpose of the Bible viewed theologically If the Bible is God's word, what does God wish to communicate through scripture Three aspects define the substance of the Bible. First is the narration of the great deeds or 'wonders' of God megaleia theou, Acts 2 11 , ranging from the act of...

Conclusion

The second council of Nicaea in 787 decreed the following in its second Canon 'Every one who is raised to the rank of the episcopate shall know the Psalter by heart, so that from it he may admonish and instruct all the clergy who are subject to him.' The majority of those who composed the Church's services were monastics whose daily reading was the Bible, much of which they would have known by heart, and this formed the raw material from which they worked. This makes Orthodox liturgy profoundly...

Archimandrite Ephrem Lash

The Orthodox understanding of scripture is based on two important principles of interpretation. In the first place, as the First Epistle to Timothy puts it, 'All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching' 2 Tim 3 16 . Secondly, holy scripture, both Old and New Testaments, forms one divine revelation. The Fathers of the Church and the writers of its hymns and prayers believed that the whole Bible spoke directly of Christ. This is what our Lord implies in Luke 24 44, 'Everything...

The Interpretation Of Scripture

The study of scripture is best accomplished with love for the Bible and accompanied by spiritual interests in harmony with its nature and message. But 'the word of God is not fettered' 2 Tim 2 9 . Countless women and men throughout the centuries have read the scriptures for comfort and direction without concern for formal matters of interpretation. Indeed most people, even preachers, usually read and interpret the Bible by means of free association within the community they live in and the body...