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Evangelic and Orthodox approaches to the Bible


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#1 Katie S.

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 06:37 PM

Hello everyone,

I have been following various threads on monachos for some time now but this is my first post - I hope this is the right forum.

From the little I know (despite being Orthodox since birth...) the role of the Bible in the Orthodox liturgy is very different to the role of the Bible in Evangelical services. My initial understanding is that the difference lies in the Holy Eucharist, where the words of the Bible become literally true in the Divine Liturgy, whereas in the Evangelical service, Holy Communion is a symbolic act, thus the Bible is interpreted (correct my terminology as I might be very wrong). I am planning to read on the subject to understand the difference more fully and deeply but until I get there I would appreciate any thoughts on the topic. I have a very close friend who is Evangelical and I am starting to think I should be somewhat vigilant when we talk about the Bible because it may not be as harmless as I first thought just because we're both Christian and there aren't many people to talk to about God.

My second question is this: what is the relationship between the place of the Bible in the liturgy, and the place of the Bible in our daily lives. I am puzzled by the Evangelical way of reading. It seems too intellectual, even though all the Evangelicals I have met 'warn' me not to read the Bible as a 'book' but as God's word. Lastly, is there an Orthodox way of reading the Bible? I will admit I haven't read the Bible from cover to cover and I keep thinking that I have/need/should to, only that I am not sure how to go about it. I don't want to set up a schedule like my friend does - it feels like taking the soul of something outside of the body that carries it, if that makes any sense.


Thank you very much for reading this - hopefully in future posts I will have more insights and less questions!

Katie

#2 Paul Cowan

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:18 AM

Dear Katie,

Not to side step your questions, but have you used the search feature for key words in your post above. I think you will find several threads even in recent couple of months on these same topics. If not, I am sure others will chime in.

Paul

#3 Anna Stickles

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:33 AM

St Seraphim of Sarov had a schedule for reading the Bible. I believe he read one of the Gospels each day. And there is also a schedule for reading the Bible in our liturgical calendar which many people who cannot attend daily services nevertheless use at home. Discipline and consistency in whatever we are doing is very much something valued in our faith. This outward structure is what allows us to overcome the tendency to be led around by our own feelings and so that we can gradually enter into the soul of what we are given.

In Orthodoxy though the Bible does not exist as the sole authority or source of our faith. We have the Liturgy, the Fathers, and the whole of Tradition of which the Scriptures are only a part. And for us the Scriptures are never read nor understood on their own, but rather within the whole of the life and the teaching that the Church gives us.

#4 Father Stephanos

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 04:51 AM

One Orthodox Christian approach to start reading our Holy Scripture would be to get three bookmarks, and then use them to keep your place in the Psalms, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. Start at Psalm 1.1, Genesis 1.1, and Matthew 1.1. Each and every day, read at least one chapter from the Psalms, from the Old Testament, and from the New Testament; the next day, continue onto the next chapter from where you left off in the Psalms, in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament. Continue your readings at least until you have finished the entire Holy Scripture.

It is worthwhile to begin and finish your readings with an appropriate prayer.

Sometimes, you will vary your reading speed depending upon what you are reading. Try to let the Holy Spirit guide you as you read and pray.

When you are able to, read explanations of the Holy Scripture which are written by our Holy Fathers of our Holy Orthodox Church. As you read and reread our Holy Scripture, you will find that the Psalms, the Old Testament, and the New Testament will help explain one another.

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos


Edited by Father Stephanos, 16 August 2012 - 05:26 AM.


#5 John S.

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 03:23 PM

Hey Katie.

You should check out Bishop Kallistos Ware's article, "How to Read the Bible."

It can be found by googling it online (e.g., http://intervarsity1...u/text/ware.pdf).

It's also in the back of the Orthodox Study Bible, if you have a copy.

- John

#6 Katie S.

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 06:57 PM

Paul, I did use the search box and there are similar discussions on the forum but I didn't find anything specific to Bible reading...Everyone has been very helpful on this thread though.

Anna, I understand and I totally agree with you, thank you for putting it so clearly. I think my worry was that if I set up a schedule and read the Bible on my own, I wouldn't be able to see how everything comes together in the Orthodox Tradition, and that scared me. Now I realise this is an ungrounded fear so I will stop worrying and start reading.

Thank you Father Stephanos, your advice is most helpful, the three bookmarks are already in place!

John, thank you very much for the link - the article answers my most urgent questions. I don't have a copy of the Orthodox Study Bible but I read about it on a different thread and I am considering ordering one.

Katie

#7 Owen Jones

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 08:31 AM

I think the most important thing I try to remember when I read the Bible is that there is always a spiritual point. The purpose of it is spiritual. That may sound obvious, but, unfortunately, that's not always true for many of us. The very first purpose is to provide inner peace.




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