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The Orthodox Church and Supersessionism

supersessionism replacement theology

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Poll: Is Supersessionism Orthodox? (5 member(s) have cast votes)

Does Orthodoxy teach Supersessionism?

  1. Yes, at least a variety of Supersessionism. (2 votes [40.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 40.00%

  2. No, it does not even teach a variety of Supersessionism. (3 votes [60.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 60.00%

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#1 H. Smith

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 07:39 PM

I think that the Orthodox Church teaches a variety of Supersessionism- that the New Covenant "supersedes" the Old Covenant. I would like to better understand the Church's position on this topic.
 
The word "supersede" in Latin means literally to "sit on top of" something. The word came into use in Scotland in the 17th century as a legal term, whereby one law supersedes another. As result, "supersede" can have more than one meaning: (1) to replace a separate thing completely and make it irrelevant, or (2) to continue something and only replace it in a limited sense.
For example, if I "sit on top" of a chair, my body is separate from the chair. But if I "sit on top of my ankles, my body is still connected to my ankles. To give another example, a new law can abolish and replace an old one, or it can just partly amend it, while continuing it. I think that the fact the term can mean different things has added to the confusion, and some theologians say the Church does not follow Supersessionism, because they only think of one meaning of the term.
 
In general, Orthodox theologians do not use the term "Supersessionism," because the concept was developed in 19th century western academics. Rev. Peter Gillquist, former Chairman of the Antiochian Archdiocese's Evangelism Department, wrote at length on the subject in his booklet The Nation of Israel in Prophecy. The booklet is available in many Orthodox Churches, but it does not mention the term.

 

 

Some sources portray Orthodoxy as Supersessionist. Fr. Yves Dubois, a Greek Orthodox priest, is quoted as saying that "there are few signs that" supersessionism will be removed from Orthodoxy.1Fr. Georgy Belodurov explained on Deacon Kuraev's forum that: "'Replacement Theology' is a term that the enemies of Orthodoxy call the Doctrine of the Church. The Orthodox Church teaches that the Church is the Body of Christ, the New Israel." "Replacement Theology" is another term used for Supersessionism, although I doubt that "supersede" and "replace" necessarily mean the same thing.

 

Theopedia says:

Supersessionism is the traditional Christian belief that Christianity is the fulfillment of Biblical Judaism... Supersessionism, in its more radical form, maintains that the Jews are no longer considered to be God's Chosen people in any sense. This understanding is generally termed "replacement theology." The traditional form of supersessionism does not theorize a replacement; instead it argues that Israel has been superseded only in the sense that the Church has been entrusted with the fulfillment of the promises of which Jewish Israel is the trustee.

 
Richard Lux, who is not Orthodox, writes in The Jewish People, The Holy Land:

Most notably, Eastern Orthodoxy has been reluctant to change its supersessionist view. Father George Makhlour of St George's Greek Orthodox Church in Ramallah has said: ‘The church has inherited the promises of Israel. The Church is actually the New Israel. What Abraham was promised, Christians now possess because they are Abraham's true spiritual children just as the New Testament teaches.’ (pp. 61-62)

However, one must note two things about Lux's quote here. First, Fr. Makhlour himself is not quoted as using the term Supercessionism, so this could just be Lux's interpretation. Second, Robert Lux paints a very negative picture of Supersessionism, claiming that it excludes God's promises from the Jewish people. The problem with this portrayal of Supersessionism is that it incorrectly suggests God's blessings go to some nationalities instead of others. But in fact Orthodoxy says people receive God's blessings regardless of their nationality.



On the other hand, other sources portray Orthodoxy as rejecting Supersessionism. In his inspiring interview on Ancient Faith Radio, Fr. James Bernstein was asked about "Replacement Theology." He answered:

 

What of Old Israel: Are the Jews Still Chosen of God & the Mystery of Israel’s Blindness.

The scriptures do say: “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, but is a Jew who is one inwardly” (Romans 2). So Paul here speaks of the gentile as well as the Jew. On the other hand, St Paul in three chapters in particular (Romans 9,10,11) makes perfectly clear that there is a future destiny for the Jewish people. He assumes their continued existence as a people. So St Paul asks in Chapter 11:


“Has God cast away his people? Certainly not but through their fall to provoke them to jealousy, salvation is come to the gentiles. For I do not desire brethren (speaking to the gentile Romans), that ye should be ignorant of this mystery lest you should be wise in your own opinions that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the gentiles come in.”

 

After quoting Romans 11, Fr. Bernstein correctly concludes how this relates to Orthodox thinking:

So there is a hope for Old Israel. And also so we have in the same chapter it speaks of Old Israel being a natural olive tree into which wild gentile branches have been grafted. And then St Paul says: “Do not boast. Remember that you gentile Christians do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

 

So to answer the question, I do not believe the Old Jewish olive tree was cut down and replaced with the brand new olive tree. There is only one olive tree into which the gentile Christians have been grafted.

Fr. Bernstein is right that Orthodoxy does not teach that there are two separate olive trees and that one was cut down and "replaced." If that is what Replacement Theology or Supersessionism mean, then they are not Orthodox concepts. However, it seems to me that Supersessionism can also allow for another understanding that matches what Fr. Bernstein has described: some branches have been "replaced", even though the tree has not been. And this does not prevent those branches from being put back in. Likewise, the new status of the tree with new branches that have found the root "supersedes" the old status of the tree, even though they are the same tree.
 

Eugene Pentiuc, professor of Old Testament at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, rejected "Supersessionism" as a teaching of the Church in a section he wrote for the Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. He wrote:

The first of [the foundational attitudes that tended to fuel anti-Judaism] was the position of theological supersessionism attested
in some of the New Testament and patristic writings, especially those using the typological imagery of the movement from Old to New as being the passage from shadow to reality. (p.356)

 
It makes sense to me that the Old Testament was more than a mere shadow. So I can see that if Supersessionism is defined this way,
Orthodoxy is not Supersessionist. Next, the Encyclopedia says, in another chapter written by Professor Pentiuc:

Another early danger, supersessionism, discernible in the indictment of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mt. 21.33-46) and supported by Paul's teaching that the coming of Christ put an end to the custodian role of the Law (Gal. 3.24-5; Rom. 10.4; cf. Heb. 8.13), led to a premature devaluation of the Old Testament among some Christian commentators. The idea that the church and its new Scripture superseded the old Israel and its Hebrew Scripture is attested in many early Christian writings. Even so, the church as a whole has been able to keep the two Testaments in a dialectical unity, in the main avoiding factual reductionism and supersessionism as dangers. (p.421)

 
However, if "Supersessionism" might be defined different ways, perhaps Prof. Pentiuc is referring to certain un-Orthodox varieties of Supersessionism among early Christians. Perhaps the term "Supersessionism" could be broad enough that it could include other
ideas that remain "Orthodox" (like St Paul's image of the olive tree in Romans). After all, Prof. Pentiuc wrote that Supersessionism can be found in St Paul's idea of the coming of Christ and it's relationship to the Law.

 

Finally, in online discussions, Orthodox had different opinions on the topic, but generally considered their views "Supersessionist":


Israel, http://www.orthodoxc...opic,263.0.html

Supersessionism, http://www.orthodoxc...p?topic=21834.0

The Ancient Way: Replacement Theology, http://www.christian...ms.com/t7703383

 

 

 

 

 

1. For the quote by Fr. Yves Dubois, see Geoffrey Wigoder's article "Jewish-Christian Relations in the Light of the Holocaust".



#2 Kosta

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 02:52 AM

I dont now what the term supersessionism meant in the 18th  century west or its intent. But Orthodoxy does believe we are the Israel of God. That Christ fullfilled the law.

 

That the 'tree' does not represent a nationality but a religion.  This faith symbolically represented as a tree is now open to all gentiles because the messiah has come and the holy Spirit has poured out onto the gentiles all of the promises in the gentile pentecost.

 

That when Jesus cursed the fig tree, it was the withering away of the hebrew nation.  That the destruction of the temple in 70 a.d. was a judgement from God upon the hebrew nation, and that Palestine is no longer a promised land. As Chriist said, 'My Kingdom is not of this world"  As the Father's taught the Temple Mount is now cursed, its the reason why christians never dared constructing a christian temple on its poisonous soil. As Christ taught in the gospel (Jn 4.21) that the day would come that no one would worship on the temple mount any longer.

 

Yes the jewish people will remain, they still observe certain outward 'signs' such as circumscision. The Fathers teach that in the last days many jews will finally realize that the antichrist (or the messiah they will eventually accept) will be a fraud and they will finally convert to the Church. 

 

On a side note, keep in mind that Fr. James Bernstein and Fr. George Makhlour are coming from two opposite ends. Cuturally Fr. James Is born a jew and converted to Orthodoxy, Fr. George is a Palestinian Arab.  There are socio-political conficts in that region between the two groups, so each side will emphasize things through the different cultural lenses they inherited


Edited by Kosta, 15 March 2013 - 02:55 AM.


#3 H. Smith

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:01 AM

Kosta,

 

You made good points when you wrote in your opening:

I dont now what the term supersessionism meant in the 18th  century west or its intent. But Orthodoxy does believe we are the Israel of God. That Christ fullfilled the law.

 

That the 'tree' does not represent a nationality but a religion.  This faith symbolically represented as a tree is now open to all gentiles because the messiah has come and the holy Spirit has poured out onto the gentiles all of the promises in the gentile pentecost.

 

 

You commented:

 

On a side note, keep in mind that Fr. James Bernstein and Fr. George Makhlour are coming from two opposite ends. Cuturally Fr. James Is born a jew and converted to Orthodoxy, Fr. George is a Palestinian Arab.  There are socio-political conficts in that region between the two groups, so each side will emphasize things through the different cultural lenses they inherited.

 

Since as you say they come from different backgrounds, it is remarkable that their teaching on this is essentially the same in substance. This confirms not only the Orthodox teaching, but the idea of Orthodoxy as a real body of thought that comes together. There is one major doubt I have about one different, particular statement in Fr. Bernstein's interview, but it is a separate topic.


Edited by H. Smith, 15 March 2013 - 05:02 AM.


#4 Lakis Papas

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 04:53 PM

All of New Covenant was written in the Old Covenant in a "hidden" prophetic way.  But even New Covenant's era there are points to be revealed in a future time. St Paul says(1 Corinthians 13:12):  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

 

 

New Covenant and Old Covenant, both, teach us that perfection is yet to come. Gradually we walk the road to perfection in human history. But saints tell us (for example Gregory of Nyssa) that our final stage is the "darkness of the mind" - the revelation of God to man's mind is "darkness" where human mind does not find anything to operate on.

 

While it is right to say that Old Covenant's ways are replaced by New Covenant's ways, on the other hand, the replacement is similar to the image of a child replacing childish ways and adopting grown-up ways. This is more a maturing process rather than a replacement (a grown-up still keeps in him/her the child that once was).


Edited by Lakis Papas, 15 March 2013 - 05:00 PM.


#5 Father David Moser

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:04 PM

While it is right to say that Old Covenant's ways are replaced by New Covenant's ways, on the other hand, the replacement is similar to the image of a child replacing childish ways and adopting grown-up ways. This is more a maturing process rather than a replacement.

 

I think that it is not really accurate to say that the Old Covenant is replaced by the New.  It would be be better to say that the New completes the Old or perhaps more clearly, the New illumines, reveals, explains, continues, etc the Old.  To say that it replaces the Old would imply that the Old is done away with, when that is not at all the case (if it were, we would not honor the Old Testament righteous ones as Saints for they would be of a different order, not continuous with the saints of the New).

 

Fr David



#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:32 PM

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." - Matthew 5:17.



#7 Owen Jones

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 02:14 PM

Nor did Christ come to supersede the law. 



#8 H. Smith

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 06:19 PM

All of New Covenant was written in the Old Covenant in a "hidden" prophetic way.  But even New Covenant's era there are points to be revealed in a future time. St Paul says(1 Corinthians 13:12):  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

 

 

New Covenant and Old Covenant, both, teach us that perfection is yet to come. Gradually we walk the road to perfection in human history. But saints tell us (for example Gregory of Nyssa) that our final stage is the "darkness of the mind" - the revelation of God to man's mind is "darkness" where human mind does not find anything to operate on.

 

While it is right to say that Old Covenant's ways are replaced by New Covenant's ways, on the other hand, the replacement is similar to the image of a child replacing childish ways and adopting grown-up ways. This is more a maturing process rather than a replacement (a grown-up still keeps in him/her the child that once was).

 

Dear Lakis,

 

I liked your analogies, that brought new ways of looking at the light that shines through the crystals!

 

This is also a good comparison of an adult doing things differently than when he/she was a child. As an adult, he/she might run longer, harder, go without water more, might swing his/her arms less, and might be more upright in it. However, the child is also running, sometimes in spurts, sometimes taking breaks, sometimes getting "worn out", etc.



#9 H. Smith

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 06:27 PM


Dear Owen,

 

It's true that Christ said he would fulfill the law, and didn't use the Latin expression "supersede."

However, I am doubtful when you say:

Nor did Christ come to supersede the law. 

because in fulfilling it, it seems to me he may have "superseded" it. To "supersede" (sit on top of) something means to transcend it, while not necessarily destroying it. For example, his way of forgiveness spiritually "rises above" a law that says to punish. Christ did not eliminate the idea that a sin was wrong and could match a punishment, but he went above it by instructing us with his rule to forgive others instead of punishing them, as He says: "Be merciful as your father in heaven is merciful".

 

Peace.



#10 Owen Jones

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 07:38 PM

Christ showed us how to be obedient to the law.  I don't see how He superseded the law.  He actually seems very emphatic about that. 



#11 H. Smith

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 08:53 PM

I made a mistake. Fr. Gillquist's booklet The Nation of Israel in Prophecy, which is widely available in Orthodox churches, can be read at:

http://enxc.blogspot...n-prophecy.html

 

The first chapter says in part:


1. The Old Covenant is over.

 

In order for the new covenant--which offers salvation to all, Jew and Gentile alike--to take effect, the promises of the old covenant had to be fulfilled. This was done in Christ. Thus, we read that God "has made the first [covenant] obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away" (Hebrews 8:13).

Now admittedly a Covenant (agreement) is different from the Law (the rules required by the agreement), but the two concepts are at least related. The obsoletion of the Covenant has therefore affected the status of the Law.



#12 H. Smith

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:09 PM

Owen,

 

You are right that Christ showed us the way to follow the law. St Paul said that the Old Testament is for instruction, and thus there is an element of following it. As you write:

 

Christ showed us how to be obedient to the law. He actually seems very emphatic about that. 

 

 

On the other hand, at times, Christ instructed people to disobey the law.

When the pharisees criticized his disciples for working on the Sabbath (picking grain), Jesus responded in Matthew 12: “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?"

Jesus concluded: "Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple... For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

 

A good way to understand this story, I think, is that Jesus was "superseding" the law about the Sabbath. Supersede means to "sit on top of", and here Christ shows that he was above it. It does not mean that the rule did not exist, but that He was able to go above it.


Edited by H. Smith, 16 March 2013 - 09:11 PM.


#13 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 12:12 AM

Where does the word 'supersede' appear in the writings of the Holy Fathers?



#14 Lakis Papas

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 12:17 AM

Luke 24:44-49

Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
 
Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

 

Dear, H. Smith, I think that I understand your question.

 

Above are the words of Christ before His Ascension. Do you think that there is a sign of "being above" in this statement? I see that the way to understand the New Testament  is to "comprehend the Old Testament" - at least this is the way Christ shown to apostles.  


Edited by Lakis Papas, 17 March 2013 - 12:22 AM.


#15 Lakis Papas

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 01:40 AM

Zechariah 4:1-3

Now the angel who talked with me came back and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep. And he said to me, “What do you see?”
 
So I said, “I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left.”

 

 
In an exegesis of Zechariah 4:1–3, st Maximus the confessor writes:
 
The Church of God, worthy of all praise, is a lampstand wholly of gold, pure and without stain, undefiled and without blemish, receptacle of the true light that never dims…. The lamp above her is the true light of the Father which lights up every man coming into this world, our Lord Jesus Christ, become light and called such.
 
Then st Maximus says:
 
I believe that the olive tree to the left means the Old Testament, because Old Testament cares more about practical philosophy, and that the olive tree to the right means the New Testament, because New Testament is a teacher of a new mystery and creates in every believer the will to see God. The first one teaches ways of virtue, the second offers words of knowledge to those who philosophize about the divine. The one grabs the mind from the fog of visible and raises it to noetic, after being cleaned from every material fantasy. The other clears him of any attachment to the materials and with the power of bravery, like a hammer, breaks the nails that hold the intention being towards the body.
 
The Old Testament elevates the body to the soul making it to become sensible through the virtues, and prevents the mind to descend into the body. The New Testament elevates the mind to God by setting it to fire by the flames of love. The one is making the body similar to mind according to the will. The other is making the mind similar to God by obtaining grace and much resemblance to God, so as God to be recognized through it, similar to the way that we recognize the original from its image.
 
The Old Testament, because it symbolizes the pursuit of virtue, it causes the body to match the mind in motion. The New Testament, because it creates knowledge and vision of God, illuminates the mind  with divine meanings and qualities. The Old Testament provides to the knowledgeable man the modes of virtues. The New Testament gives the practical man the words of true knowledge.

Edited by Lakis Papas, 17 March 2013 - 01:43 AM.


#16 H. Smith

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 04:26 AM

Andreas,

 

You asked a good question:

Where does the word 'supersede' appear in the writings of the Holy Fathers?

The word does not appear in the writings of the Holy Fathers. That is a major reason why I am uncertain that Supersessionism should be actively announced as an official position of the Church.

 

However, i have two major problems with opposing "Supersessionism", as one professor has, is that (A) one of the meanings of this term appears to accurately reflect our beliefs, and (B) modern academics has often referred to our teachings as "Supersessionist", and so even if the word "supersede" is a misnomer (like "Guinea Pig"), a denunciation of this belief could end up sowing opposition to what our teachings actually are.

 

To get back to your question, Church fathers haven't used this term because it didn't exist then. In fact, the translation for "supersede" in Greek (the language of the Church fathers) is "replace" αντικαθιστούν. However, even if you may find instances when the simpler term "Replace" was used by Church Fathers in explaining our belief, I think "supersede" is a broader, more inclusive term that better addresses the critics of "Replacement Theology."

 

To give an example in English of the use of the term "Supersede", if a traffic official directs you to drive through a road where there is construction, even though a departmental regulation may ban that, the official's instruction "supersedes" the rule. In the example of eating on the Sabbath, Jesus pointed to David eating the Temple bread in what Jesus says is unlawful. Jesus concluded his response to the pharisees about his disciples picking grain unlawfully on the Sabbath by saying that He was greater than the Sabbath. Like the traffic official who supersedes a law by allowing you to go on a closed road, Jesus had the authority to supersede the law and allow His disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath.

 

To give another example, the old Law required people to sacrifice animals for atonement. However as Paul explains in Hebrews, Christ has taken that place. And his sacrifices goes higher than it. His passion is a new Passing-over. Thus we no longer sacrifice animals for atonement. You might argue that the old law of sacrifice hasn't been "destroyed". However, it has been "superseded" with the new way of doing things.

 

That is why I think our theology includes the idea of the New Testament superseding the Old one, at least in some important sense.

 

Peace.


Edited by H. Smith, 17 March 2013 - 04:30 AM.


#17 H. Smith

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 04:55 AM

Luke 24:44-49

 

Dear, H. Smith, I think that I understand your question.

 

Above are the words of Christ before His Ascension. Do you think that there is a sign of "being above" in this statement? I see that the way to understand the New Testament  is to "comprehend the Old Testament" - at least this is the way Christ shown to apostles.  

Lakis, you bring up an interesting point. In the quote, Jesus said he fulfills the law and the things in the Old Testament pointed to and predicted him.

 

Let's say you are looking for a friend's lost car, and all you have is a handwritten description. You may imagine the car a certain way based on the description, but sometimes your expectation is very vague. When you finally find the car, hasn't the car itself- the fulfillment of your instructions- superseded your mental image of the car? You no longer need the paper, except for confirmation in case someone questions it. In fact, any ambivalences in your mind about details are resolved in favor of the car you now have.

 

If a new law is approved adding a new clause to make an old law more clear as sometimes happens, we say that the new law "supersedes" the old one. But of course this addition has not removed anything in the old law. So let's say the car you found had a tinted window, but that was not mentioned in the instructions. The face-to-face image of the car you see with your own eyes has superseded what before was an open-ended description. Likewise, the face-to-face witness of Christ's experience supersedes anything that was left unspecified in the Old Testament.

 

To give another illustration, if a chair has your nametage on it and you go and sit on your chair, haven't you "sat on top of" the chair that "pre-dicted" you?

 

Finally, for me the Old Testament does help me understand the New Testament, like you said. One purpose is that it has pointed me to the new one because some prophecies (like in Isaiah) match the Christian understanding of them, rather than the rabbinical understanding. However, it's worth pointing out that Orthodox teachers whom I have heard put it in the opposite way: We understand the Old Testament in light of the New. An example of this could be that it was not until they saw the Risen Christ that the apostles fully understood what those prophecies meant. Still, the Old Testament nonetheless continues to point many to the fulfillment and "incarnation" of those prophecies.

 

Regards.


Edited by H. Smith, 17 March 2013 - 05:06 AM.


#18 Lakis Papas

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 10:27 AM

For a literary analysis let me suggest the following textual cross references found in the Bible  :  

 

http://www.chrisharr...ations/BibleViz

 

Work of Christoph Römhild and Chris Harrison.

 

Mr Harrison writes in his site:

 

This set of visualizations started as a collaboration between Christoph Römhild and myself. Christoph, a Lutheran Pastor, first emailed me in October of 2007. He described a data set he was putting together that defined textual cross references found in the Bible. He had already done considerable work visualizing the data before contacting me. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. However, this was less interesting to us, as several Bible-exploration programs existed that offered similar functionality (and much more). Instead we set our sights on the other end of the spectrum –- something more beautiful than functional. At the same time, we wanted something that honored and revealed the complexity of the data at every level –- as one leans in, smaller details should become visible. This ultimately led us to the multi-colored arc diagram you see below.
 
The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.

 

 

Bible Cross-References arc visualization 

 

BibleVizArc7small.jpg

 

It becomes obvious that you may not distinguish the old from the new testament, because their cross references are so entwined. And I believe no "sat on top of" image is illustrated. 


Edited by Lakis Papas, 17 March 2013 - 10:29 AM.


#19 Anna Stickles

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 10:47 AM

I don't think that as Orthodox we are required to define our faith in the terms offered by modern academics. Anyway, this term, from the quotes in the first post, seems to be politically loaded, as far as some people interpreting supersessionism as being "anti-Jewish" therefore they think that we as Orthodox should deny being Supersecsionist so that we don't get labeled anti Jewish - this is bad reasoning.   

 

 

If we are going to use the term, it is good to make clear that the New Covenant does superscede the Old (and the analogy with the car was something I really liked as a good way to talk about this - Hypolytus, uses an analogy of building a model before building the real thing, and that once the real thing has been built the model is no longer needed) 

 

But as far as the Jewish people go, the Church is open to both Jew and Gentile equally. What has changed with Christ is that a relationship with God is no longer the property of the Jews alone.  - it is as St Paul says, God's  "is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law."

 

and Eph 2  "14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, "

 

The whole "us vs them" mentality where people are defining themselves by nationality and then being afraid of looked down on,  is rebuilding the wall that Christ broke down. It is a total misunderstanding of the Gospel, and a rejection of Christ's call to become one. It is as St Leo the Great said in several of his sermons on the passion. The Jews crucified Jesus, but He still forgives those who believe in Him, and accepts them into the Church. However,  for those who stubbornly resist the Gospel and reject Christ, they no longer are God's chosen people. But we don't say that the Gentiles supersceded the Jews, because it is not a matter of replacement, but of expanding to something more universal and all encompassing.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 17 March 2013 - 10:52 AM.


#20 Anna Stickles

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 12:01 PM

There are some examples of what I said above in St Leo the Great's sermon 66. 

 

First he has an extended section saying that even the saints of the OT were saved by the blood of Jesus, it is just that we are saved by believing in what has happened, they are saved by believing in what they were anticipating.  He goes on to say


 

"Our Lord said, 'When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all things to myself.'  Nothing remained of legal institutions, nothing of prophetic figures, nothing that is which has not passed entirely into the mysteries of Christ.  We possess the sign of circumscision, the sanctificaiton of anointing, the consecration of priests. We possess the purity of sacrifce, the truth of baptism, the honor of the temple. Rightly should messengers have ceased after the message had come to pass. Yet our reverence for these promises should not be diminished just because the fullness of grace has come.

 

As the Apostle says, "Blindness has come upon one part of Israel" and "those who are children of the flesh are not children of the promise"  God's wonderful mercy has made an Israelite nation out of all the nations." ...As a result "when all were held bound by sin" those who were born of the flesh would be "reborn in the Spirit". No it does not matter of what father each would be born since, by the undivided confession of a single faith, the fountain of baptism makes them innocent, while election through being adopted confirms them as "heirs".  What else has the "Cross" of Christ done and what else does it do except reconcile the world to God by destroying enmities? What else except recall everything together into true peace."

 

Tertullian also says something similar in his Apology to the Jews - that the OT has not been replaced, but rather taken into Christ and transformed, becoming something spiritual instead of something fleshly.  Likewise St Symeon the New Theologian has an extended analogy explaining this that is very beautiful, as wellwe can see this in  the quote by St Maximus above.

 

The other thing to note here, is how St Leo emphasizes the move from God's economy of salvation being the propterty of the nation of Israel, to now being the property of all nations (not the property of the Gentile nations, but ALL nations - Jew and Gentile, such that ethnic heritage, the heritage of the flesh is not what is important, but rather the rebirth in the Spirit.)


Edited by Anna Stickles, 17 March 2013 - 12:15 PM.





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