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Thorough review of the OSB


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#21 David James

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 01:24 PM

There is, of course, the Church Slavonic OT, the so-called "Elizabeth Bible" (after the Empress Elizabeth, during whose reign it was issued). It used to be hard to come by, and only in a Grottaferrata photo offset edition. Now, of course, it is readily available in Church bookstores in Russia. I have a book about the development of the Slavonic Bible, which did not exist in complete form (i.e., all the books in one volume) until the 17th century, but, of course, I can't lay my hands on it at the moment. I do muse upon the fact that, until very recent times, except for the OT pericopes printed in the service books, the Gospels, the Apostol and the Psalter, the Holy Scriptures were available only to a tiny elite of scholars in Orthodoxy, and what the implications are for the centrality of the Scriptures in the daily podvig of ordinary Christians. Of course, very many pious Christians in former times, even illiterate ones, knew the entire Psalter by heart, and not a few of the literate read the Four Gospels through in their entirety every week. How many can say that today?

David James

Yes I would recommend having the OSB.

It is after all the first attempt we have at a liturgical OT which for us means the LXX.

Also I will tell you that coming from the Russian church (at least here in North America) that it is very rare to see a complete OT translated from the LXX. I have never seen one myself although they must exist. For example the complete OT in Russian for home use (year 2000) blessed by Patriarch Alexey is from the Russian Bible Society; ie it is based on the Hebrew text not the LXX.

So whereas Russians only get to hear very small portions of the LXX at services in church we now have the whole LXX available and at hand.

In Christ- Fr Raphael



#22 Olga

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 10:45 AM

I do muse upon the fact that, until very recent times, except for the OT pericopes printed in the service books, the Gospels, the Apostol and the Psalter, the Holy Scriptures were available only to a tiny elite of scholars in Orthodoxy, and what the implications are for the centrality of the Scriptures in the daily podvig of ordinary Christians.


A slight digression, if I may:

The answer to this, David, is simple. There is so much biblical content in the liturgical services (including in the prayers, canons, stikhera, troparia, kontakia, etc, as well as the "formal" scripture readings such as psalms, OT and NT readings), that an ordinary Christian (literate or not) who attends Vespers, Matins and Liturgy frequently and is attentive, will soon become familiar with scripture and its teachings.

#23 Eric Peterson

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 06:58 PM

This may be true, dear Olga, for those who hear the services in a language they can readily understand. But, as I've talked to several Greeks and Russians, ecclesiastical Greek and Old Church Slavonic take a good deal of education to comprehend the content of the services. While one is bound to pick up the things that are repeated frequently, my guess is that the complexities and subtleties would be lost. After all, there are some native English speakers who have trouble even following the meaning of liturgical English. (That being said, some translations leave much to be desired, especially in the area of syntax.)

#24 David James

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 12:46 PM

Dear Olga:

Greetings of the Feast:

You are quite right. The texts of the liturgical services are saturated with Scripture. What is not a direct quotation is usually a composition based on a specific scriptural reference, as in the troparia of canons, sessional hymns and the like. Having "mused" a bit more thoughtfully, one only need look to "The Way of the Pilgrim" to discover the centrality of the Bible in the lives of pious Orthodox Christians. The very first chapter describes how attentively the pilgrim listened to the readings in church, and how he then ran to his Bible to look up the reading for himself. In fact, his copies of the Bible and of the Dobrotoljubije [Philokalia] were his only possessions. Later in the text, there is a section where he refers to a traveling companion, whose custom it was to read the holy Gospels through every evening.

And even though a complete Bible in Church Slavonic was not printed until the 17th century, the Psalter [which, as St. Athanasius says in his Letter to Marcellinus, is a recapitulation of all the other books in the Old Testament] and Gospels were always widely available. I don't doubt that many pious Christians and monastics could recite the Psalter by heart, and an examination of any Church Slavonic psalter confirms that reading the Psalter on behalf of the departed, and as part of one's prayer rule, was [and is] a very important practice in Russian Orthodoxy.

David James

A slight digression, if I may:

The answer to this, David, is simple. There is so much biblical content in the liturgical services (including in the prayers, canons, stikhera, troparia, kontakia, etc, as well as the "formal" scripture readings such as psalms, OT and NT readings), that an ordinary Christian (literate or not) who attends Vespers, Matins and Liturgy frequently and is attentive, will soon become familiar with scripture and its teachings.



#25 Nicolaj

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Posted 08 June 2009 - 01:10 PM

Blessed feast to all,

one only need look to "The Way of the Pilgrim" to discover the centrality of the Bible in the lives of pious Orthodox Christians. The very first chapter describes how attentively the pilgrim listened to the readings in church, and how he then ran to his Bible to look up the reading for himself. In fact, his copies of the Bible and of the Dobrotoljubije [Philokalia] were his only possessions. Later in the text, there is a section where he refers to a traveling companion, whose custom it was to read the holy Gospels through every evening.
I don't doubt that many pious Christians and monastics could recite the Psalter by heart, and an examination of any Church Slavonic psalter confirms that reading the Psalter on behalf of the departed, and as part of one's prayer rule, was [and is] a very important practice in Russian Orthodoxy.

David James


Very well said. I can confirm this as I love "The Way of the Pilgrim" and read it over and over again. And I know several Orthodox Christians who are this pious.

Christos Voskrese! Nicolaj




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