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"image" and "likeness" = same or different? Septuagint vs. Hebrew

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by KATHXOYMENOC, May 14, 2006.

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    In my readings on Orthodoxy and theosis, I've come across a differentiation between God's "image" and "likeness."

    My studies long ago in the Hebrew Bible did not seem to support such a distinction, and the following excerpt from a commentary on Genesis also seems to argue against making the Orthodox distinction (apparently based on the Septuagint rendering of Genesis 1:26).

    To what extent must one believe in this supposed distinction between "image" and "likeness" and to what extent must one ascribe to the Septuagint interpretation if one finds that it may be at odds with the Hebrew? E.g., in the beginning of Psalm 23, the Hebrew is a participle, as I recall. Most English translations render it as a noun, i.e., "The Lord is my shepherd." However, the Septuagint translators chose to render it as a verb, i.e., "The Lord shepherds me." Both are acceptable renderings of the Hebrew, but this is one example where, as Yogi Berra used to say, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." You can see that both the Septuagint and the English here are thus not just translations but also interpretations of the Hebrew - i.e., when converted from Hebrew to either English or Greek, the translator was forced to choose between two different renderings because the receptor language (i.e., English or Greek) did not contain a single grammatical equivalent that was identical to the Hebrew original.

    This occurs elsewhere, I believe - i.e., the Septuagint sometimes reflects a limitation of Greek when it comes to rendering the Hebrew (just like English translations are often unable to render the full force and meaning of the Greek New Testament).

    What is the Orthodox position on preferring the Hebrew text when it can be shown that the Septuagint has mistranslated or misunderstood or been unable to convey the full nature of the Hebrew original?

    Excursus: Interpreting the “Image of God”

    History. Historically, the issue of the “image of God” (imago Dei) has concerned two foci: the identity of the imago Dei and its relationship to human sin.53 Theologians often consider the “image” within the broader questions of anthropology and soteriology. This often results in philosophical categories where the “image” is defined in terms of “being” (metaphysics) in the attempt to define the “human” and distinguish human from animal life. The principal thesis until this century had identified the “image” as the spiritual or immaterial properties of a person. Since the time of Irenaeus (ca. 185), a common view in the church was to differentiate between “image” (ṣelem) and “likeness” (dĕmût). This may well have been influenced by the erroneous addition in the LXX where “and” (kai) was written between “image” and “likeness.” It is thought that “image” refers to the ability to reason while “likeness” refers to a person’s correspondence to God in spiritual attributes. As a consequence of human sin, the “likeness” has been lost but the “image,” which distinguishes a person from the animal order, persists unaltered. Augustine also attempted to explain the “image” in ontological terms by appealing to a trinitarian image, such as human memory, knowledge, and will (The Trinity X.4.17–19). This coincided with the common interpretation of the plural “Let us make” as a trinitarian reference. He emphasized that mankind was created perfect in the garden to do the good, but sin resulted in their incapacity to obey apart from God’s enabling grace.

    During the Middle Ages the bifurcation of “image” and “likeness” continued (e.g., Aquinas), but there was little textual evidence for this supposed distinction, and the view was abandoned by the Reformers. ...

    Use of Terms. “Image” and “likeness” occur in tandem only in 1:26 and 5:3, but the order of the words differs in 5:3.60 The two terms are found essentially the same in use and are interchangeable. “Image” alone, for example, in v. 27 is adequate for the sense of v. 26, and “likeness” is sufficient by itself in 5:1. There is no special significance to their order since as we noted they have a transposed order in 5:3, a passage that certainly echoes v. 26. This would question the legitimacy of attributing to dĕmût a special feature in the tandem; some have recommended that it clarifies or heightens the meaning of ṣelem. Others have argued oppositely that it tempers the word “image” by assuring that mankind is not divine but only has a “likeness” (correspondence) to the divine.61 The LXX translation distinguished between ṣelem (eikōn) and dĕmût (homoiōsis) at both 1:26 and 5:3, where the tandem of terms occur, but used the same term “image” (eikōn) for both Hebrew words at 1:27 (ṣelem) and 5:1 (dĕmût), indicating that the words have the same force. Further support for understanding the terms as interchangeable comes from a ninth-century statue recovered from Tell Fekheriyeh (ancient Sikan) in Syria that bears a bilingual text in Assyrian and Aramaic. As a pair ṣelem and dĕmût are used with the same meaning in reference to the statue.62
    Furthermore, there is no special distinction to be made between the different Hebrew prepositions “in [bĕ] his image” and “according to [kĕ] his likeness,” since the prepositions too are interchangeable at 5:3.63 The possible significance of the prepositions, however, has been a source of debate. The preposition “in” [bĕ] is either expressing “in the manner of” (norm) or “as” (essence).64 If the latter case, mankind is the image of God and not merely a copy of the “image.” This use of bĕ is attested in the Old Testament; for example, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty” (Exod 6:3; cp. Exod 18:4).65 Yet there is one place in the Pentateuch where a similar correspondence between heaven and earth as in 1:26 is described; the Mosaic tabernacle was made after the pattern (bĕ) of a heavenly original (Exod 25:40; cf. Heb 8:1–6; 10:1).66 While not conclusive, it commends taking the preposition “in” similarly—thus both man and tabernacle are earthly icons of heavenly realities.

    Both “image” and “likeness” are used of physical representations, where there is a correspondence between a physical statue or drawing and the person or thing it represents.67 (see footnote below) Most commentators have anatomized the individual person into material and spiritual properties, thus identifying the imago Dei as either physical or spiritual. This dichotomy, however, is at odds with Hebrew anthropology; as 2:7 bears out, a person is viewed as a unified whole. The whole person, even all human life collectively, is in mind in 1:26. Since Mosaic law prohibited any physical representation of God (Exod 20:1–2; Deut 4:16), it is commonly questioned that the physical form could be intended. Deuteronomy 4:16 may well echo 1:27, where it specifically prohibits making any idol in the form of “male or female,” but neither Deut 4:16 nor the Sinai prohibition (Exod 20:1–2) has “image” or “likeness.” We cannot on this basis rule out the physical dimension as constitutive of the “image.” Of the words used for idols and statues in the Old Testament,68 the term “image” (ṣelem) is less often associated with idol worship, though it does occur (e.g., Num 33:52), and therefore was not necessarily troubling to the reader. We may add that theophany usually involves a human form (e.g., Gen 18:1–2), and the prophets envision God in human form seated in his celestial throne room.69 They do not say God is a human, for Ezekiel makes it certain that he saw a “figure like [dĕmût] that of a man” (Ezek 1:26).70 Ezekiel’s theophanic vision, with its recurring use of “likeness” (dĕmût), recalls Gen 1:26 and illustrates how “likeness” is associated with theophany in the Old Testament. “Image” and “likeness” then would have suggested that the presence of human life represented God, as did the tabernacle, not that man was divine. Moreover, that the “image” involved physical form does not mean that God is corporeal, for there is no warrant in the passage to look to human beings to reconstruct the properties of God.

    Footnote 67: צֶלֶם (“image”) is used for idols (e.g., Num 33:52; 2 Kgs 11:18//2 Chr 23:17; Ezek 7:20; 16:17) and portraits (Ezek 23:14). Also it occurs metaphorically for the ephemeral character of humanity (“phantom,” “fantasies”; Pss 39:6[7]; 73:20). דְּמוּת (“likeness”) is usually thought to be used for the abstract idea of “representation,” but it also occurs for idols (Isa 40:18), statues (2 Chr 4:3), sketches (2 Kgs 16:10), and portraits (Ezek 23:15). In Ezek 23:14–15 both terms refer interchangeably to portraits. In the Tell Fekheriyeh inscription both terms refer to the physical “statue.” דְּמוּת is also used simply to indicate a correlation in appearance or nature between two things (e.g., Ps 58:4[5]; Ezek 1:10; 10:22; Dan 10:16).

    Mathews, K. A. (2001, c1995). Vol. 1A: Genesis 1-11:26 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
  2. buzuxi02

    buzuxi02 Veteran

    Eastern Orthodox
    The Septuagint is the officially recognized divinely inspired text of the OT in the Orthodox church. Thus the septuagint supercedes the hebrew. As long as a hebrew text does not imply an opposite theology of the same septuagint verse it does not matter.
    In Orthodoxy image(eikon) in the sense of the first man represents not only human reason and free will but the incorruptability and indestructability of mans physical body. The likeness of God which fathers interpreted as an immortal soul of man, unique among other animals due to the fact that man alone was given dominion over the animals and earth.(gen 1.28-30).
    Adam became a living soul but upon the eating of the fruit he died, the serpent said....." your eyes will be opened and you will be LIKE (as) God." This verse does not use likeness as a physical representation but is used as an adverb (also Is 13.4)
    This is a matter of theological exegesis of two synonyms where various fathers used interchangeably and at times gave distinctions to .
    The hebrew word Dhemu for likeness is feminine while the word Tselem is in the masculine. These words are synonyms and used interchangeably but can have a dintinction.
    The root Tselem probably means " to shade" (Ps 39.6) meaning not an exact duplicate or replica. The golden cherub were statues (images) but were not prohibited probably because they did not symbolize God . In the nt the hebrew concept of a shadowy original which is inprecise concerning the cherub images has a parallel in Heb 8.5. In this verse it also uses the terms: "copies", "pattern" and "shadows". Again these are all synonyms and are equivlent to the hebrew terms for image and likeness.
    Any distinction or clarification of these terms falls in the realm of theological thought, interpretations given to them is by the theologian and not the translator. They have similtudes and thus other synonyms can also be used for the same things. A theologian has the liberties to make a distinction of a common group of words such as happened in the 4th century where terminology such as essence (ousia), nature (physis), and Will (thelima) became more clairified.


    If some Orthodox doctrines - e.g., theosis or part of it - are based on what turns out (using this example) to be a false distinction between "image" and "likeness" due to an erroneous Septuagint rendering of the Hebrew original, and it can be shown that the distinction and hence the doctrine is indeed a false one, or at least a faulty one, how much freedom does an Orthodox Christian have to reject such a doctrine and let the Hebrew text and meaning rule?
  4. eoe

    eoe Guest

    You are assuming that the hebrew is more correct. It is the Orthodox position that it is the Septuagint that is more correct as it is:
    a) Older
    b) The version that was in use at the time the Lord teaching.

    The newer masoretic text is a rewrite - it is not the original.
  5. Theophorus

    Theophorus ...

    Eastern Orthodox
    I would hardly claim that "theosis" is based upon passages in the Pentatuch and contingent upon them. And though some theologians of the Church have made the distinctions you point out, others have not.

    The concept of theosis can be seen in some of the earilest patristic sources, though it was yet undefined. The current view considers this ancient wittness as well as considering the councils and the heresies addressing the nature of Christ.

    The theology of the Church is an explanation of what has always been. It is not an abstract theory or conceptualization, but describes what is a real[/] phenomena.


    It's apparently a complicated and not so simple a cut-and-dried subject or conclusion, as this post from another forum states:

    X wrote: From earlier posts I have learned that the Greek OT predates the earliest copy of the MT by a number of centuries. I'm interested to know how OT textual critics weigh these two sources. That is, for example, is the Greek OT generally considered more authoritative because it is closer in time to the autographs than the later MT?


    This is a very complicated subject. Here is some recommended reading
    all titles by Emanuel Tov:

    ***Start with this book, there is a 2nd edition :

    Textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible / Emanuel Tov. Minneapolis :
    Fortress Press ; Assen/Maastricht : Van Gorcum, c1992.

    ***See if there is a newer edition of this title available:

    889. ‹‹‹. "The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research."
    (Jerusalem Biblical Studies ; 3). 350 p . Jerusalem: Simor Ltd, 1981.

    ***And then weed through this list and pick out a few likely titles:

    865. Tov, Emanuel. "The 5th Fascicle of Margolis' The Book of Joshua in
    Greek : [Newly Discovered Photostat of Lost Pt; Tables]." Jewish Quarterly
    Review 74 (1984): 397-407.

    866. ‹‹‹. "The CATSS Project - a Progress Report." 7th Congress of the
    International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Leuven 1989.,
    157-63. Atlanta: Scholars Pr, 1991.

    867. ‹‹‹. "The Composition of 1 Samuel 16-18 in the Light of the Septuagint
    Version : [Appendices Listing Greek and Hebrew Variances]." Empirical Models
    for Biblical Criticism., 97-130. Philadelphia, Pa: Univ of Pennsylvania Pr,

    870. ‹‹‹. "The Contribution of the Qumran Scrolls to the Understanding of
    the LXX." Septuagint, Scrolls and Cognate Writings., 11-47. Atlanta:
    Scholars Pr, 1992.

    871. ‹‹‹. "Did the Septuagint Translators Always Understand Their Hebrew
    Text : [Disc of Untranslated Words, Guesses, Reliance on Parallelism, Use of
    General Words, and Etymological Renderings]." Septuaginta, De., 53-70.
    Mississauga, Ontario: Benben Pubns, 1984.

    872. ‹‹‹. "Die Griechischen Bibelübersetzungen : [Bibliogs]." Principat 20,
    1., 121-89. Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1987.

    873. ‹‹‹. ""Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings"." Melbourne Symposium on
    Septuagint Lexicography., 83-125. Atlanta: Scholars Pr, 1990.

    876. ‹‹‹. "Interchanges of Consonants Between the Masoretic Text and the
    Vorlage of the Septuagint : [Bibliog]." "Shaarei Talmon"., 255-66. Winona
    Lake, Ind: Eisenbrauns, 1992.

    877. ‹‹‹. "Loan-Words, Homophony and Transliterations in the Septuagint."
    Biblica 60 No 2 (1979): 216-36.

    879. ‹‹‹. "The Nature and Study of the Translation Technique of the LXX in
    the Past and Present : [With Classified Bibliog Relating to Translation
    Technique]." Sixth Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint
    and Cognate Studies, Jerusalem, 1986., 337-59. Atlanta: Scholars Pr, 1987.

    880. ‹‹‹. "The Nature of the Differences Between MT and the LXX : [Repr]."
    Story of David and Goliath, The., 19-46. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht,

    881. ‹‹‹. "The Nature of the Hebrew Text Underlying the LXX : a Survey of
    the Problems." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament No 7 (1978):

    882. ‹‹‹. "On "Pseudo-Variants" Reflected in the Septuagint." Journal of
    Semitic Studies 20 (1975): 165-77.

    883. ‹‹‹. "The Rabbinic Tradition Concerning the "Alterations" Inserted into
    the Greek Pentateuch and Their Relation to the Original Text of the LXX."
    Journal for the Study of Judaism in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman
    Period 15 (1984): 65-89.

    884. ‹‹‹. "Recensional Differences Between the Masoretic Text and the
    Septuagint of Proverbs." Of Scribes and Scrolls., 43-56. Lanham, Md: Univ Pr
    of America, 1990.

    885. ‹‹‹. "Recensional Differences Between the MT and LXX of Ezekiel."
    Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 62 No 1 (1986): 89-101.

    886. ‹‹‹. "The Septuagint : [Bibliog]." Mikra. Assen/Maastricht,
    Netherlands, 1988. (Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum Ad Novum Testamentum ; 2:1).
    P. 161-188.1988.

    887. ‹‹‹. "Some Sequence Differences Between the MT and LXX and Their
    Ramifications for the Literary Criticism of the Bible." Journal of Northwest
    Semitic Languages 13 (1987): 151-60.

    888. ‹‹‹. "The State of the Question : Problems and Proposed Solutions [LXX
    Version of Sam and Kgs]." International Organization for Septuagint and
    Cognate Studies and the S B L Pseudepigrapha Seminar, 1972 Proceedings.
    Society of Biblical Literature, 1972. (Septuagint and Cognate Studies ; No
    2). P. 3-15.1972.

    After you have read a few of these then you will understand why I am not
    going to attempt an answer to your question.



    - - -

    Also, there is this article that discusses the relationship between the Septuagint and the Hebrew text.
  7. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

    Eastern Orthodox
    A couple things. First, the doctrine is most of all based on the revelations of the New Testament. The use of one line from Genesis is not particularly important. The distinction we're aiming at would be made without Genesis, Genesis is primarily used here to provide a terminology from Scripture.

    Second, the Septuagint as read in the Orthodox Church is taken to be the Old Testament. Your objection is of the same order as pointing out that the Israelites would not have understood Isaiah 53 or the many other Christological readings of the Old Testament in the way we do. Fine, whatever. God gave us the Septuagint and guided our readings of it in the Tradition as the Church. Hence, Christological readings even if it isn't what the "original author" would have it say, "image" and "likeness" despite the Hebrew [though your argument is a little puzzling, since the same thing could be said about the Greek, couldn't it?], "virgin" despite the Hebrew.

    eoe: Your statements about the relations between the MT and the LXX are not quite true. I mean, yes, it's true that the Masoretic textual tradition has no MSS before like the 9th century and there are some interesting divergences between the LXX and the MT which cannot be merely translational but must be because of differing textual traditions in the Hebrew [and, admittedly, in some aspects the Hebrew behind the LXX is possibly of an older tradition]. That's the difference between them: they spring from different textual traditions [there's not "one" Hebrew Text penned by God Himself or something] and it's wrong to call one "older" or "altered" or whatever.
  8. Theophorus

    Theophorus ...

    Eastern Orthodox
    The thing that is funny about textual criticism is the lack of consistency. One text, though a minority, is preferred for its antiquity in the NT, yet another is rejected for the OT, though it predates the masoretic by nearly 1000 years. Go figure.
  9. ThePilgrim

    ThePilgrim Veteran

    Eastern Orthodox
    But how can it be shown that the Septuagint is a faulty rendering of the Hebrew original? The Hebrew original isn't extant.
  10. icxn

    icxn Senior Veteran

    Eastern Orthodox
    Same in essence (Hebrew) different in quantity/quality (Septuagint). No contradiction.

    Divine grace confers on us two gifts through the baptism of regeneration, one being infinitely superior to the other. The first gift is given to us at once, when grace renews us in the actual waters of baptism and cleanses all the lineaments of our soul, that is, the image of God in us, by washing away every stain of sin. The second -our likeness to God - requires our co-operation. When the intellect begins to perceive the Holy Spirit with full consciousness, we should realize that grace is beginning to paint the divine likeness over the divine image in us. Artists first draw the outline of a man in monochrome, and then add one color after another, until little by little they capture the likeness of the subject down to the smallest details. In the same way the grace of God starts by remaking the divine image in man into what it was when he was first created. But when it sees us longing with all our heart for the beauty of the divine likeness and humbly standing naked in its atelier, then by making one virtue after another come into flower and exalting the beauty of the soul 'from glory to glory' (2 Cor. 3:18), it depicts the divine likeness on the soul. Our power of perception shows us that we are being formed into the divine likeness; but the perfecting of this likeness we shall know only by the light of grace. For through its power of perception the intellect regains all the virtues, other than spiritual love, as it advances according to a measure and rhythm which cannot be expressed; but no one can acquire spiritual love unless he experiences fully and clearly the illumination of the Holy Spirit. If the intellect does not receive the perfection of the divine likeness through such illumination, although it may have almost every other virtue, it will still have no share in perfect love. Only when it has been made like God - in so far, of course, as this is possible - does it bear the likeness of divine love as well. In portraiture, when the full range of colors is added to the outline, the painter captures the likeness of the subject, even down to the smile. Something similar happens to those who are being repainted by God's grace in the divine likeness: when the luminosity of love is added, then it is evident that the image has been fully transformed into the beauty of the likeness. Love alone among the virtues can confer dispassion on the soul, for 'love is the fulfilling of the law' (Rom. 13:10). In this way our inner man is renewed day by day through the experience of love, and in the perfection of love it finds its own fulfillment. - St Diadochos of Photiki, "On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination"
    Image = potential.
    Likeness = actualization.


    Nor is the LXX original.

    What I meant is: What do you do if due to the inability of Greek to accurately capture the meaning of the Hebrew original (because no two languages have exact semantic overlap), the Greek rendering of a passage and subsequent doctrines based on that Greek rendering lead to a faulty or misleading teaching? Must an Orthodox Christian adhere to the teaching/interpretation because it's based on the LXX, or can one reject the teaching/interpretation because it can be shown that the Greek rendering says more or something different than the Hebrew really means?

    For example - per the article I linked to, the LXX used nomos to translate the Hebrew torah, when didachê might be a more accurate rendering of the Hebrew - i.e., "teaching/instruction," rather than "law." Some people might derive doctrines or teachings based on viewing the Torah/Pentateuch as being God's "law" to the Israelites and God's people, whereas torah in the original (and I don't think anyone would argue that the Hebrew vorlage for the LXX nomos read something different than torah) means something more along the lines of "instruction" or "teaching."
  12. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

    Eastern Orthodox
    I think a better question to ask is why we can't treat the Septuagint as an independent source rather than subordinating it to a Hebrew text. If treated only as a translation, there are some problems with the text, but God can work with an "imperfect" translation and He did do so. The significance of a text is its use in the tradition, and the Septuagint is important enough in its own right in the tradition to be treated as an independent source with value despite its being a "flawed translation". We shouldn't idolize the "originals", the message of Christianity can be incarnated into any cultural, and the translation into Greek made it really and truly the Bible as well. We're not like the Muslims who believe the Arabic of the Quran is the one and only Quran and everything else is a translation or interpretation and not the real thing, a good and faithful translation of the Bible is really and truly the Bible just as much as the "originals" - but especially so in the case of a translation which has been used in the Church by the fathers of the Church as the definitive Greek for centuries.
  13. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

    Eastern Orthodox
    Part of the problem with that take on the matter is that St. Paul himself refers to it as the Law. Though, interestingly enough, I think the Greek East has been preserved from the distortions of such readings more than the West. It seems we shift the semantic field of "nomos" in theology away towards "teaching" rather than law. Note the Russian [I know, they're Russians, not Greeks, but, whatever] way of referring to the Scripture and Tradition as taught by the Church as "The Law of God", which sounds a bit odd to Western ears.
  14. icxn

    icxn Senior Veteran

    Eastern Orthodox
    If Orthodox Theology were based solely on linguistics it would have been a problem, but it is not. It is primarily empirical. The Church Fathers first practiced /experienced what scripture instructed and then came to understanding.
  15. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

    Eastern Orthodox
    This is essentially sola scriptura and that's the root of the difficulty.
  16. buzuxi02

    buzuxi02 Veteran

    Eastern Orthodox
    In the context of Theosis, the OT plays a minimal role.
    Evidence for Theosis is found in 2 Pet 1.3-4. This was and is the landmark statement the church fathers needed. 2 Peter 1.3-4 coupled with 2 Cor 3.18 is the scriptural backbone for Theosis. The earliest fathers also drank from the cup of secularism. The hellenic thought of philosophy and rhetoric was also an influence in their thoughts about deification.
    But the most important thing we are not discussing is how to take the theory of theosis and put it into use.
    Theosis after all is the process of becoming God-Like and to do that is by putting into practise.
    The mystics who make Theosis not a doctrine but an experience do not dwell on scriptural passages. For them prayer is paramount especially the Jesus Prayer. Those who practise Hesychasm know this full well. Thru meditation , the reciting of the Jesus prayer but also living a sanctified life is what Theosis is all about. Theosis is giving alms, fasting, praying, immersing yourself in the sacramental life of the church and simply living a holy life. It is a discipline and an experience not a dogma or an abstract mystical theology.
    Terms such as Image and Likeness was not the catalyst for theosis. Theosis is a spiritual experience which the church fathers wanted to explain using scripture, cause and effect. Theosis would be the same today if the passage in gen 1.26 was never written. Gregory Palamas and Serpahim of Sarov progressed in theosis thru Asceticism and prayer, .The aquisition of the Holy Spirit is the goal of the christian as St Seraphim said. Obviously these sporotual practises have nothing to do with deciphering scriptural passages.


    Then why are no such instructions given in the New Testament? Why is there no instruction to recite "The Jesus Prayer"? Why is hesychasm not a paramount teaching of the New Testament?
  18. Theophorus

    Theophorus ...

    Eastern Orthodox
    There is an instruction, just not treatise. Paul mentions praying without ceasing, and fasting.
    He speaks on our "conversation" in this world. The 1st epistle of John addresses the issue in the context of being like God and having God in us.

    Many passages that in english speak of grace and God "working" in us literally means that we are "energized".

    The bible is not the revealer of all truth, but as the scriptures say, the Church is. It is there even though the discipline is not spelled out. But this is true for protestant practice also. Many things taught in protestant circles are vague and only alluded to in the scriptures. Hence when Paul closes an epistle with the intructions on virtue and describes the "Christian walk", Rick Warren steps in with a detailed explanation on how to do it and where are focus should be. When certain baptists speak of letting God into your heart we yet again get specific instruction outside of scripture explaining it, ie: the sinners prayer as well as numurous volumes on submitting to the will of God.

    Which tradition has the fulness of Christ.

    Remember, sola scriptura is not capable of eliminating traditions. The issue is where one derives his authority for his traditions.


    "We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed "perfect knowledge," as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 3, 1, 1)

    It appears that for Irenaeus, the Scriptures are the "ground and pillar" of faith and hence have higher authority than the church. I don't doubt that he was alluding to 1 Timothy 3:15, but instead of making the church the ground and pillar, he makes the Scriptures, since they are the repository of the Apostolic Gospel, and that this should be so was, according to him, the will of God and the Apostles in handing them down to the church.
  20. choirfiend

    choirfiend Senior Veteran Supporter

    Eastern Orthodox

    Oops, let's try this again...

    "We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed "perfect knowledge," as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 3, 1, 1)

    Irenaeus says that we learned the plan of salvation, which I will refer to as Apostolic Teaching (the good news!). They proclaimed the teaching in public, and later wrote it down. The TEACHING is the ground and pillar of our faith, as be it is also written down in Scriptures. The bolded parts are how the Apostles taught, and the red parts link the referential clauses of the writing together. He then goes on to say that some say the teaching was not complete and try to say they improve upon what the Apostles taught (in open declaration and in writing). The whole passage, read initially by me, someone who never really dealt with Sola Scriptura, is understood completely differently than how you interpreted it. The Gospel has come through the Apostles (Apostolic Teaching, aka Tradition) and according to Irenaeus, has NOT come through the Scriptures. Rather, the Scriptures are the writing down of the Apostolic Teaching. If one interprets the Scriptures wrongly, how is the Apostolic Teaching being upheld in them? For a silly example, when Christ says He is the door, if there were ppl out there who took this literally and started worshipping doors (but only handcrafted wooden ones such as would have existed in Jerusalem), would they be hearing, living, and doing the Good News as preached by the Apostles and later written down? Of course not.

    Keeping the Apostolic Teaching (present in the written Gospels) as was preached by the Apostles is the key, not making it some Gnostic secret teaching that the Apostles were not privy to, but that later teachers say is an improvement upon them.
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