Jump to content


Photo
* * * * * 1 votes

The Orthodox Church and Supersessionism

supersessionism replacement theology

  • Please log in to reply
79 replies to this topic

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%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#61 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 12 April 2013 - 07:29 PM

One has to distinguish between Conciliar doctrine on the one hand and theologumena of the Fathers on the other.  There is an "Orthodox view" to be sure on the Trinity, the Incarnation, the nature(s) and wills of Christ (which took 600 years to become dogma).  But not on the Atonement and a host of other mysteries.  So different Fathers approach such things differently and often in what might appear superficially to be in contradictory terms.  Same applies of course to Scripture.  But underlying it all is the same message.  So we don't seek out contradictions but rather harmony. 



#62 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 12 April 2013 - 07:43 PM

Lakis,

 

Russian is funny because it does not have the word "the".

 

Sorry, I think I probably mistranslated the first sentence you quoted.

The sentence says word for word: "Lord spoke moral Commandments twice."

It adds that He gave a set of commandments at Mount Sinai and then He gave "new commandments" on the Sermon on the Mount. The new ones he gave were superior to ("super higher" than) the first ones, because they required God's grace.

 

So it's not a matter of God having one set of commandments and giving the same ones twice. Although if that was what happened, you could say the later version "supersedes" (sits above) the earlier version.

 

The example you gave of Old Testament prophecies or prophetic figures continuing doesn't disprove Supersessionism either. A king can give an edict that predicts a famine, and gives corn growers get a financial tax break and must pay a tax in corn. After storing up enough corn He can supersede it with a new law where everyone gets the tax break, and no one has to pay taxes in corn. At the end of the day, the king and the corn growers can still be there, the first tax break is still around (everyone gets it), and the predicted famine can happen too. Fortunately they will have enough corn stored up.

 

So just because a new agreement, covenant, or law takes precedence (comes before) over and supersedes (goes above) an old one does not mean every person, prediction, or rule in the old agreement or law disappears.



#63 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:03 PM

I thought you made a good point in your message above, Owen, especially mentioning that different Orthodox writers can express things differently.

In fact, I think you and others make lots of good points, and in good discussions like these it's hard to respond to everything at once. So I end up going back over things I missed earlier. I am not sure if there is a better way to deal with that.

Also, to give more examples of Orthodox writing on this subject:

I saw that this winter the Vysoko-Petrovsky Monastery gave theological courses. Its course schedule mentions "New Testament replacement (or 'supersession')" four times. (I put a / between the two possible translations)

For example:

Dec. 21 Dogmatic Theology. Ascetics (New Testament replacement/supersession)


Dec. 24 Old Testament New Testament


Dec. 25 New Testament Old Testament


Maybe I am reading it incorrectly somehow, but that's literally what it says (http://obitelpetrova...ex.php?start=30)


The Basics of Orthodoxy website says "God replaced Isaac, who was put on an altar, with a lamb".
This gives an analogy to the idea of Christ's sacrifice "replacing" the main sacrifice of the OT Temple ritual, which was a lamb. (http://pravoslav.at....tain/prich.html)

On another issue, Father Oleg Molenko writes: "Changing the Old Covenant (law) for the New Covenant (grace), the Lord also replaced this day of rest with the calendar sabbath/saturday (as the Jews were accustomed) for Sunday." http://www.omolenko.com/799.html

Granted, the Saturday Sabbath has not been replaced in every sense, since we still have respect for it. He goes on to explain that in another article:

This seventh day that the Jews had is replaced by Christians for the day of resurrection- that is the true rest brought by the incarnated Christ God. The seventh day of the week remains the seventh in counting days and the rest(ie. 'calm') of this day, being named earlier as a "sabbath", remained the rest of the seventh day, which Christians began to call it in honor of the true rest brought by Christ with the resurrection day.


He writes that if someone is going to keep the Sabbath in a Mosaic way,

it follows that together with this commandment one would keep the circumcision, eating the paschal lamb, making the ritual tents, building the Temple for sacrificing animals and all the other Judaic and Old Testament things. But all this was already changed away by Christ and replaced/superseded by His commandments and His Church.

http://www.omolenko....ismo-gusevu.htm

The Administrator of the Pravoslavnye forum writes that one must read the Bible starting from the Old Testament because "the New Testament is closer to us in time and replaces/supersedes the Old one with itself".
http://www.pravoslav...php?topic=431.0


Nonetheless, the Ekaterinburg Orthodox Newspaper says: "in general, the New Testament does not replace the Old Testament with itself, but fulfills it (Mt. 5:17)."

The Newspaper compares failing to read the Old Testament with putting a roof on a house without the foundation. This analogy goes along with supersession (literally 'sitting on top of'): How can you have a roof "sit on top of" a house if there is no foundation?

But can you replace a foundation with a roof? Not in the normal way of thinking about it. If you are looking at it straight-down from a helicopter, the roof replaces the bottom of the house in your line of sight. But if you look at the house from the side, the roof only sits on top.

Fr. Alexander Shmeman, the famous theologian, repeats this idea in writing on the Orthodox Liturgy. This reminds me: a few days ago a Catholic lady said she did not understand why her particular church service mentions the promised land stretching from the Nile to the Sea, if we don't believe in C.Zionism. I replied that this can refer to a traditional Christian idea that Israel has a transformed meaning about the Church and the heavenly kingdom. (Met. Phillip explains about this that God is not in the real estate business).

Fr. Shmeman writes:

As the New Testament does not replace the Old with itself, but fulfills and fills it out, the new cult, to be the cult of the New Testament to the end, does not replace and does not destroy the old, but arises as its necessary fulfillment. In the New Testament the enduring revelation of the Old lives fully- about God, creation, about a person, sin and salvation, and outside of it is impossible to understand the works of Christ. Also in the new cult is proposed all that the old one witnesses.


Here Fr. Shmeman is using the word "replace" in the sense that the new one comes in and the old one is now fully gone. Shmeman also disagrees that the old dies out the more the new one is realized. Yet St. Paul did say the old one is "obsolete" and "ready to vanish away."(Heb. 8:13, Orthodox Study Bible) I think the answer is that both are correct- in one sense the old vanishes and in another sense it remains. This reminds me of supersession, which contains ideas of both replacement and continuation.

Regards.

Edited by H. Smith, 12 April 2013 - 09:03 PM.


#64 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:47 PM

Lakis, in message #62 I meant to say: "A king can give an edict that predicts a famine, and also gives corn growers a financial tax break, along with requiring them to pay a tax in corn."

 

Please allow this update to supersede my earlier sentence, without canceling the underlying meaning,


Edited by H. Smith, 12 April 2013 - 09:58 PM.


#65 Anna Stickles

Anna Stickles

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,365 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 13 April 2013 - 05:30 PM

As far as I can tell from a quick search, "supercessionism" is a word that captures the interest of certain Protestants who are involved in "replacement" theology, dispensationalism and "covenant theology."  The primary issue seems to be the Jewish people and modern day Israel, and do they still have a role in the economy of salvation or not.  In other words, is God's covenant with Israel still in place?  Are they still His Chosen People in some sense?  Or is that Covenant now null and void? 

 

While many Fathers comment on the people of Israel, there has never to my knowledge been developed some kind of Patristic dogma on the subject, nor has there been a conciliar dogma, although I am certainly not an expert on the Councils and perhaps someone here who is can enlighten me.  And we need to be careful because sometimes when the Fathers speak of the Jews or Israel they are speaking in an analogical or allegorical sense.

 

But what seems to be clear is that the term itself is a fairly contemporary Protestant formulation of which there is no exact Orthodox counterpart.  And in any case, the Orthodox Church doesn't really speculate about historical things in the same manner that Protestants do.  The modern day persecution of Jews has an impact on all of this, as well as the huge reversal over the past forty years or so among American Protestants toward Jews, Judaism, and the State of Israel.  Among more "conservative" or fundamentalist and "evangelical" Protestants, a complete change of attitudes has taken place, and among some this is all tied up in the theory that you can predict the Second Coming by understanding events in Israel. 

 

But one thing is for sure, we do not approach theology in the vein of:  It's nice thinking about this.  Theology, for Orthodox Christians, is a way of transforming the intellect (nous) so that we begin to see things as they really are, the spiritual realities behind physical appearances so to speak.  Even speculative theology is focused on contemplating the underlying spiritual nature of created things.  And credal theology is not just about avoiding heresies, although that is why we have them.  But in reciting the Creed together we are all as one united to God and His creation.  We are not doing this to solve a puzzle. 

I have to agree with Owen here. The traditional Orthodox term for the type of relationship the OT has to the NT is Typology.  Whatever supercessionism exists in the patristic theology is always within the context of understanding things as a type which is in relation to an antitype. This always has to do with how the type both anticipates and participates in the antitype. and how the antitype gives meaning and substance to,  and fulfills the type.   In this sense the direction is two way.  It is Christ himself the antitype who was present in the Law giving it whatever efficacy and meaning it did have.  Typography is always kept in the context of Christology. 

 

Supercession as its own independent doctrine is not Christ centered and the context tends to be more political or legal.  Also Typology is not meant to completely explain the relationship between type and antitype but suggest it by analogy.  I think we have to be careful to keep to this same approach when dealing with these issues.

 

Anyway if one is interested in typology Pascha sermons are often a good place to start. 


Edited by Anna Stickles, 13 April 2013 - 05:31 PM.


#66 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,028 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 13 April 2013 - 07:06 PM

I agree with Anna.  It is limiting and mistaken to think of the OT and the NT only in terms of law and covenant.  Both are about God's self-revelation.  The NT reveals God in ways the OT does not but that in no sense amounts to 'supersessionism'.  The OT is indeed the type in every way of the NT.  They are a continuum.  Christ's own sayings about this are clear: He is the 'I AM' in both the OT and the NT.  The Orthodox position is that the NT is the continuation and fulfilment of the OT.



#67 Herman Blaydoe

Herman Blaydoe

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,157 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 13 April 2013 - 11:59 PM

Anna does indeed provide what has possibly been a missing piece of the puzzle that has not been discussed yet. The OT and the NT together form the heilsgeschichte (salvation history). The OT is how those before the coming of Christ are saved. The NT is how we are saved. The NT does not "replace" how the OT people participate in salvation history, even if it is not how we participate in it. But I do not believe this is what is meant by "supersessionism". Again, too much baggage comes with that word, no matter how much we try to rehabilitate it, to be useful.

 

If my bishop says otherwise I may re-evaluate my position.

 

Herman



#68 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 14 April 2013 - 07:26 AM

Dear Anna,

 

You pointed to a good quote from St. Leo:

 

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 sanctification of anointing,the consecration of priests. We possess the purity of sacrifice, 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.

The idea that prophetic figures and Old Testament institutions passed into the mysteries of Christ show that those mysteries continue in a transfigured form. It is interesting that St. Leo says Christianity possesses the sign of circumcision, since ritual circumcision is not practiced anymore. What this refers to I take it is that circumcision continues in the form of the circumcision of the heart. When he says we do not diminish our reverence for "these promises", what do you think the promises are that he is referring to?

 

It makes sense that we would not diminish our reverence for those Old Testament elements, because grace has come, just like receiving a message does not diminish reverence for the messengers who have ceased their work. In fact, the importance of the messenger- like the old elements in their transformed state- could be greater if the message itself achieves greater importance once revealed.

 

Then in the next part of this quote, St. Leo shows that many nations, in joining the Church, have come to make up Israel:

 

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."

 

St. Leo concludes by talking about the idea that you described as Christ breaking down the wall between Jews and gentiles, and he bases this on the idea that faith is what counts in becoming heirs of the promises, rather than one's physical descent:

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."

 

Regards.


Edited by H. Smith, 14 April 2013 - 07:31 AM.


#69 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 14 April 2013 - 08:10 AM

Next I would like to share more Orthodox material on this topic.

 

The Orthodox Study Bible (page 1635) says:

  • In no way is the ordained Christian priesthood seen as a throwback to or a reenacting of the Old Testament priesthood.  Rather, joined to Christ who is our High Priest 'according to the order of Melchisedek' (Heb 5:6,10), the Orthodox priest is likewise a minister of a new covenant that supersedes the old.

George Cronk, in The Message of the Bible: An Orthodox Christian Perspective, (p. 282) writes similarly:

 

His priesthood is presented in Hebrews as superior to the Aaronic priesthood and as foreshadowing the priesthood of Christ. Thus, the priesthood of Christ, carried on by the bishops and presbyters (priests) of the Orthodox Church, supersedes the priesthood of the Levites.

 

Fr. Evan Armatas, in his Ancient Faith Radio discussion "Formation of the New Testament Canon" says:

  • The New Testament, as we call it, is the last part of the Christian Bible, and we accept both Old and New, although we do believe that the New Testament supersedes the Old. Within the New…
  •  
  • This is important. You might think, “Oh, what’s he saying?” Trust me. If you do not have the framework that the New Testament supersedes the Old, you’re going to run into some theological problems. People do this all the time. They’ll quote something in the Old Testament to contradict what the Church teaches, and we don’t do that in the Church. Even within the New Testament, we have a hierarchy.
  •  
  • In the Church, we keep the hierarchy of the Bible by the way we do it liturgically. Where is the Gospel? On the altar table. Where [are] the epistles and the Old Testament? Out on the side.

(http://ancientfaith....testament_canon)



This makes me curious to ask: where exactly "on the side" is the Old Testament kept?


8224694403_922c8ca3f3.jpg



Kevin Edgecomb, of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, writes in The Law and the King:

  • As has been traditionally understood, Pentecost was the day on which the Law was given at Mount Sinai. In the Church, Pentecost is known for the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the earliest Christians, as described in the Book of Acts. In the hymnography of the Eastern Church, this dual import of the day is not lost: the latter is seen as superior to the former meaning... This is one example taken from Matins of Pentecost Sunday, from the Canon, Ode Eight:

The bush that was unconsumed
by fire on Sinai spake unto the tardiloquent and inarticulate Moses, and made
God known unto him; and zeal for God showed forth the three Children who
chanted hymns to be unconsumed by fire. O all ye His works, praise ye the Lord
and supremely exalt Him unto all the ages.


When the vivifying, violent wind of the All-Holy Spirit came
from on high, resounding unto the fishermen in the form of fiery tongues, they
spake eloquently concerning the mighty deeds of God. O all ye works, praise ye
the Lord and supremely exalt Him unto all the ages.


Ye that ascend not that untouchable mountain, nor fear the
awesome fire, let us stand on Mount Sion, in the city of the living God, and
now form one choir with the Spirit-bearing disciples. O all ye works, praise ye
the Lord, and supremely exalt Him unto all the ages.

  • This is the ancient Christian perspective that the latter Pentecost fulfills, completes and enhances and supersedes the earlier, in that the people now have the Law written in their hearts through the direct action of God though the Holy Spirit.

 

Robert Arakaki, in Why Orthodox Worship is Liturgical, writes:

Hebrews was written in order to convince them of the superiority of Christianity over Judaism. Basically, the author argues that the new covenant is superior to the old because Jesus Christ is the Messiah who fulfills and supersedes the old covenant.

 

Arakaki also writes on his website Orthodox-Reformed Bridge:

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son whom he appointed heir of all things. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

 

The superiority of Christ is proven by the fact that the coming of the Son supersedes all previous Old Testament revelations.

 

http://orthodoxbridg...asis-for-icons/

 

I value your discussion and wish you a nice Sunday service today.

 

Peace.


Edited by H. Smith, 14 April 2013 - 08:23 AM.


#70 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,028 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 14 April 2013 - 01:40 PM

I can only say for myself that the use of the the word 'supercedes' in the quotations given in post #69 is either mistaken or careless, or it was not meant in the sense argued for here (though even that could be accounted careless for the reason Herman gives).  I would make a distinction between 'Orthodox material' and the remarks of some writers who are Orthodox.  When we have recourse to authority, we should discern what is authoritative.  I still cannot understand what point it is sought to make here: why try to make this term 'supersessionism' fit Orthodoxy?



#71 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 19 April 2013 - 03:09 AM

Dear Anna,

 

In the passage below you compared the writing of Tertullian and others to St. Leo's writing, which said that: the OT saints were saved by their anticipation of Christ, the OT mysteries continue in a transfigured form, the messengers have ceased their work yet their message remains revered, that many nations joined Israel by joining the Church, that faith is what counts in becoming heirs of the promises instead of one's physical descent being what counts, and that Christ broke down the wall between Jews and gentiles:

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 well we can see this in  the quote by St Maximus above.

It makes sense to me that Tertullian and the others would give ideas similar the idea of the main OT elements being taken into Christ and transformed, because that is how St. Leo portrays it. And it makes sense that this can become something spiritual, because St. Leo mentioned the sign of circumcision as something that existed in Christianity - and according to St Paul what counts is circumcision of the heart. On the other hand, could Old Testament prophetic things like God speaking the Word in Genesis go from being spiritual things to being physical ones, like the incarnation of the Logos in Christ's birth? That would not make St. Leo wrong, of course.

 

But despite this understanding of transformation, did Tertullian or the others say that this transformation excludes the idea that the Old Testament was "replaced", or are you thinking of that as just common sense? But perhaps this is not always common sense after all?

 

I think that if something is transformed, then its elements are not "replaced" like one replaces a metal bench with a plastic one he bought from a store. But if you transform a wooden bench into two chairs, might you have "replaced" what's under your table with something different?


In the case of the quote by St. Maximus, the saint does not say explicitly whether the New Testament "replaces" the Old Testament. But perhaps in looking at St. Maximus' quote one can see it as replacing the latter in a way, and in another way not replacing it?

 

In Zechariah's vision both olive trees- which St Maxmimus sees as the two covenants- exist and have value. Neither one is removed, nor is one put in the other's "place." (ie. "re-places" the other)

 

Yet for St Maxmimus, these two olive trees have different functions. He sees the OT as raising and cleaning the mind to the level of the noetic, where it is still attached to the material, and he sees the New Testament as raising the mind further to the level of God. Thus, for the "practical man", could the New Testament have replaced the old one when it comes to the focus of the noetic mind?

 

And what about the body? I didn't find in this quote by St. Maxmimus anything about the New Testament having an affect on the body itself. What do you think?

 

If it turned out that in St. Maxmimus' thinking the New Testament does not raise the body even to the level that the Old Testament does, then perhaps the New Testament cannot necessarily be said to replace the Old Testament when it comes to the body?  In such a case where the New Testament did not raise the body, perhaps it could even be said that for the knowledgeable man, the Old Testament replaced the new one as his main focus for instruction.

 

But in any case, it does seem to me that a big part of the New Testament is the raising of the body after all, since this is a main concept in the Resurrection, a central idea of the New Testament.

 

Regards.

 

 

 

 

 

 



#72 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 19 April 2013 - 03:23 AM

Dear Herman,

 

I thought you did raise a good point about the "baggage" that can be seen as accompanying Supersessionism. Imagine if western thinkers defined the use of icons as "iconism", and often the discussions portrayed "iconism" (the use of icons) in a way that even went against Orthodox use of it. Would you refer to yourself as an "iconist" or a supporter of "iconism"?

 

I think the answer would be "Yes, but". In other words, while the Orthodox person would use icons, he or she would want to explain how they draw different conclusions from that fact. He or she might reply: "Yes, I believe icons have value, and I actively show religious respect for them, but that does not mean I treat them like some kind of pagan idol that incarnates a deity"

 

So as to the examples of some of the authors I cited earlier, I think one could draw different conclusions from the concept of one thing superseding another than the authors did. One could reply: 

 

Yes, I think the New Testament supersedes the Old one, but that does not mean the Old one has lost its value. In fact, the New, superior, Testament confirms that the Old Testament on which it is based does contain inspired divine spiritual value. They are both important, just like both elements do in such examples as: a house and its blueprint, a car and its manual, an amendment and an underlying constitution, a king and a law that he can override with compassion as he chooses.


Edited by H. Smith, 19 April 2013 - 03:30 AM.


#73 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 19 April 2013 - 03:44 AM

In the bulletin for St. Makarios’ Church, Fr. Mueller's writing seems to possibly use two senses of the word "supersede" in relationship to Christ, writing:

But what Christ did went beyond all sense and logic. There was no fault in Him that He should bow His divine head under a human hand to be anointed. By this submission, which supersedes all the logic of priesthood, Christ established a righteousness that excels every other righteousness in greatness, action and warmth.

http://saintmakarios...03-bulletin.pdf

 

First, Christ's submission “supersedes” in the sense that the submission goes beyond the logic, like his righteousness excels over every other. This is because Fr. Mueller writes that Christ's action goes "beyond" all logic, and then he writes that it "supersedes" the logic of priesthood. By superseding it, Christ made a righteousness that goes beyond it.

 

Does that make sense?

 

Second, the submission of Christ, a priest, is distinguishable from, and acted "in place of", the normal logic of priesthood. Instead of (ie "in place of") putting the divine above the human like a religious priest normally does, Christ was anointed by a human hand, Fr. Mueller writes.


Edited by H. Smith, 19 April 2013 - 03:45 AM.


#74 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 20 April 2013 - 02:19 PM

Sorry, but none of the above makes sense to me.  The Orthodox Church does not theologize in this manner.  It is not about resolving or overcoming paradoxes but about embracing them and finding the harmonious within the paradoxic.  Nor do we get fixated on particular words.  Yes, words matter.  All you have to do is look at the controversy over homoousion and homoousios.  But at some point it's just pedantry which is what I think we have here.  It reminds me of certain protestant debates over the meaning of "Lord" that I have encountered. 



#75 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 April 2013 - 04:02 PM

Dear Anna,

 

I agree with you when you wrote:

The other thing to note here, is how St Leo emphasizes the move from God's economy of salvation being the property 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.)

 

Pope Leo writes about this: “God's wonderful mercy has made an Israelite nation out of all the nations.” By this he naturally includes the Jewish nation among the chosen nations who are God’s people Israel. Wouldn't you say that this quote by St. Leo goes against a claim that Jewish people lost being chosen by God, and that instead, what happened was that all nations became chosen.

 

St. Leo is using "Israelite nation" in the sense of being God's people Israel, who had the economy of salvation that you mentioned. Sp like you said, by becoming part of that nation, that economy became part of their property too. At that point, ethnic fleshly heritage is not what is important, because all nations, no matter what their fleshly heritage, have this economic property.

 

To build on this, wouldn't it also make sense to say that even before the incarnation flesh was not really what mattered either? For example, even in ancient times it was loyalty to Israel's God, not biological descent that counted, since someone could be descended to a different ethnicity, yet become an Israelite?

 

I understand the Orthodox view appears to be that even in Old Testament times the true Israel was the Old Testament righteous. For example deacon Silouan Thompson writes:

in scripture the ekklesia was never the entire race of Israel, it was the ones who were faithful to YHWH. In some periods this remnant was vanishingly small: Elijah believed for a time that he was the only worshiper of YHWH left in Israel, and at times there were even pagan idols at the gate and within the temple.

 

http://silouanthomps...-replace-israel


But perhaps physical descent from Israel did still make some difference in Old Testament times? St. Paul wrote that God has not forgotten His people, I think pointing to himself as an example. Namely, St. Paul was a descendant of the Lost tribe of Benjamin, yet there was an ancient hope that God would still return Benjamin to Himself. In terms of this ancient hope though, could it still be said that descent from the Lost Tribes made a difference, because if someone became cut off from Israel there was still the hope that he/she or his/her physical descendants would return?



#76 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 April 2013 - 05:38 PM

Dear Herman,

 

I thought you made a very good point about how Supersessionism carries alot of baggage. This is a problem for using the term, because people will sometimes fail to understand what others have in mind.

 

My conclusion is that the simplest meaning of Supersessionism works, where one thing just "supersedes" another, for example by making an improvement. Rabbi Novak used it this way and concluded that Christianity must be "generically supersessionist". He explained: "If Christianity did not come into the world to bring something better... then why shouldn't anyone... remain within normative Judaism?"

 

A committee that included Metropolitan Gennadios, Metropolitan Emmanuel, Dr Nicolas Abou-Mrad of the St. John of Damascus Theology Institute, and Fr. Demetrios Tonias of Boston, released a report saying that Supersessionism was a proper term, but problematic if applied negatively to Judaism. In his lecture on the topic, Fr. Tonias saw the Church's idea that the ancient Israelites were the Church's kinsmen as "Supersessionism."

 

On the other hand, unrelated to the committee, another clergyman took the term "Supersessionism" to have a meaning even more negative than the one you mentioned ("that the Jews have been replaced by the Gentiles"). He pointed to St. John Chrysostom's Homilies Against the Judaizers as suggesting that the people do not have a reason to continue. One way I can think of to address the negativity in the Homilies is to say that at that time people thought of peoples mainly in terms of cultural communities more than biological groups as we do today, as I heard at one O.C.F. meeting. So St. John Chrysostom was writing against the religious and national community, but not people with Jewish descent as a category.

 

In any case, I am attaching here my own review of Orthodox views on the topic. Your discussion is helpful.

 

Thank you.

Attached Files


Edited by H. Smith, 23 April 2013 - 05:39 PM.


#77 Herman Blaydoe

Herman Blaydoe

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,157 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 April 2013 - 05:47 PM

"Supersession" is a word. "Supersessionism" is a concept, encompassing a LOT of words, some of which are not really useful for an Orthodox Christian, in my not-so-humble opinion.

#78 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 24 April 2013 - 12:58 PM

If St. John Chrysostom were alive today he would be excoriating Orthodox Christians for allowing themselves to be taken in by modern paganism, consorting with Protestants and Catholics, inter marrying, and a whole host of deadly maladies!  In his day, he was excoriating his flock for swearing oaths in order to do business with Jews, and participating in Jewish rites and festivals, and claiming that Jewish synagogues were just as holy as Christian temples.  He was demonstrably furious about this.  His argument is against his own flock, and not against the Jews per se, although I realize that for most people that distinction is lost. 



#79 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 198 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 01 May 2013 - 05:38 PM

If St. John Chrysostom were alive today he would be excoriating Orthodox Christians for allowing themselves to be taken in by modern paganism, consorting with Protestants and Catholics, inter marrying, and a whole host of deadly maladies!  In his day, he was excoriating his flock for swearing oaths in order to do business with Jews, and participating in Jewish rites and festivals, and claiming that Jewish synagogues were just as holy as Christian temples.  He was demonstrably furious about this.  His argument is against his own flock, and not against the Jews per se, although I realize that for most people that distinction is lost. 

Excellent point, Owen.

 

St. John Chrysostom's "Homilies Against the Judaizers" was directed against nonJewish Christians acquiring new, Judaic practices. Maybe I missed something, but I did not find anything in it saying that the Jewish people themselves (like the Greeks, Syrians, etc.) had no reason to continue. Rather, he specifically focuses on religious customs. His work can be confusing for modern ears that come from a different context.


Edited by H. Smith, 01 May 2013 - 05:40 PM.


#80 Owen Jones

Owen Jones

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,341 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 02 May 2013 - 01:43 AM

The point is that there is not, at least as far as I am aware, an Orthodox Christian dogma on Jews, although I think it is safe to say that from an Orthodox perspective in general the Jews have no continuing role in the economy of salvation.  That has been a Protestant fixation since Martin Luther was obsessed with the idea.   






0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users