“And still the premise is not true, since the scriptures were read every day in church all that time.”
i) As usual, Orthodox offers no evidence to substantiate his claim.
ii) I have cited specific counterevidence from both The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity and the Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church to prove that the Orthodox laity did not hear the Scriptures read in the vernacular throughout Orthodox church history.
“Oh I forgot, they all would have been protestants if only the LXX was more accurate.”
Orthodox must now resort to bald-faced lies. Both Jason and I have explained that this is not our claim.
“Which means the entire canon is now up for grabs again.”
i) I’ve been over this ground with Orthodox several times now. He’s merely repeating himself instead of addressing the counterargument.
ii) Orthodox cannot tell us what is the official canon of his own communion. The Greek Orthodox has one, while the Russian Orthodox has another. So, according to his own adopted tradition, it’s still up for grabs.
“And yet you have no hope - no hope whatsoever, of proving that your particular 66 books is the correct set other than by pointing in some way to a consensus.”
I don’t invoke consensus to establish the canon. I’ve given my arguments. Try again.
“So everybody is doomed to a tiny step above "sheer ignorance" unless you are highly literate and educated, you have a private copy in Greek and Hebrew, and you understand the original languages.”
i) Orthodox is such a child. Let’s walk him through the argument one more time.
He is the one who appeals to what pre-Reformation Christians believed about the Bible.
Okay, this appeal raises an obvious follow-up question: if you’re laying claim to what pre-Reformation Christians believed about the Bible, then what percentage of pre-Reformation Christians either read the Bible or heard the Bible in the vernacular?
This is a question that follows from *his* argument, not *mine*. He is the one who’s appealing to what Christians always believed about Scripture before the Reformation came along.
So, on the basis of *his own argument*, it’s only natural to ask what access pre-Reformation Christians had to the Bible.
He then does a lot of whining about the consequences when I cited evidence from standard reference works on Eastern Orthodoxy and/or Eastern Christianity that such access was spotty.
But these are consequences which flow from *his own argument*. If the consequences are unacceptable, then they invalidate his position, not mine.
ii) And, yes, there are degrees of Biblical literacy. In varies from person to person. It varies in time and place. That’s just a fact of life.
From a Reformed perspective, all that’s necessary is that the remnant in each generation come to a saving knowledge of the faith. One doesn’t need to be a Bible scholar or theologian to be saved.
“The issue is that the Orthodox Church is the one the apostles set up, and we do not change.”
Another one of his thumb-sucking assertions.
“What sort of a rule is worth anything unless it is agreed on?”
He continues to peddle his manmade, aprioristic definition of what constitutes the rule of faith.
“How well would the bible work as a rule of faith in your church if one man considered the book of Mormon as canonical, and the next man included the Koran?”
Is he trying to be obtuse, or does this come naturally?
i) If the Bible is the rule of faith, then, by definition, the Koran or the book of Mormon is not the rule of faith.
ii) A denomination (including his own) is a voluntary association of like-minded believers. If a member bucks the system, he can be excommunicated.
“Right, and I want to be on the side of the body of Christ in the Church he set up.”
Orthodox has never been able to explain how he is in any position to know that the Orthodox Church is the body of Christ.
“The issue is that protestantism as a religion, cannot ever agree on anything.”
Hyperbole. And self-refuting hyperbole at that. If we don’t agree on anything, then there’s no such thing as Protestantism, in which case Orthodox is unable to identify the target of his attack.
“You’ve got no hope of ever knowing for sure how to resolve these problems.”
i) I’ve already discussed the relation of probability to providence. He ignores the argument.
ii) Orthodox has never shown how he can “ever know for sure” what he believes is true.
“Certainly, and those people tend to end up outside the Church.”
Yes…people like Orthodox, who substitute their idolatry for the NT church.
“The issue is not whether the bible is designed to make everyone agree.”
So Orthodox is now recanting his former thesis. The validity of Scripture as the rule of faith is not dependent on common consent. Thanks for retracting your central objection to sola scriptura.
“The issue is that God's will is that HIS CHURCH should agree.”
If that is God’s will, then why the disagreement? Apparently, Orthodox is an open theist who regards the will of man as overpowering the will of God.
“So according to you, the sign of a good rule of faith is that everyone disagrees as much as possible? I guess if you can draw a circle so small that only you can stand in it, you will have a really excellent rule of faith.”
I don’t define the rule of faith by desirable or undesirable consequences. The rule of faith is simply whatever God says it is. The results are in his hands.
“However, when the Church found that they couldn't decide something from the scriptures in Acts 15, they didn't cheer at the disagreement, they came together in council and made a ruling.”
i) Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That was the apostolic age. The age of public revelation.
But the apostles have come and gone—leaving us the NT.
ii) And notice that we only know about this event because it was recorded for posterity in Scripture.
“It doesn't say ‘They went off and studied the scriptures privately and formed separate denominations, praise God’.”
As a matter of fact, Peter, James, and Paul did study the scriptures privately. Each of them studied the Bible for himself. And that is why, when they came together, they were each in a position to quote Scripture and discuss Scripture.
“You assume that chain consists of people who fit your criteria - i.e. Exegetical scholars who have private copies of the bible and read them in the original languages. However the real chain is that of the Church which passes on the teachings.”
No, you’re backing down on your original claim, according to which pre-Reformation believers always knew the Bible because they always heard it read aloud in church. You then oppose this mythical consensus to the Protestant faith. Try to keep track of your own argument.
“I don't know what group Steve is thinking of who didn't have a bible in a sufficiently vernacular translation.”
Why doesn’t he know that when I cited specific examples from standard reference works on Eastern Orthodoxy and/or Eastern Christianity?
“But I can guarantee that they believed and passed on the same teachings as their predecessors who were reading it in the vernacular.”
And how can he guarantee that? Where’s the evidence?
“What is more important? To pass on accurate copies of the scriptures, but not know what it means, or to pass on the teachings accurately, never changing anything because of the latest scholarly fad?”
A false dichotomy. Moreover, in my last reply to Orthodox, I cited two examples (one on higher criticism, the other on lower criticism) in which contemporary Orthodox scholarship is revising traditional views on the composition and transmission of Scripture.
Orthodox doesn’t believe in the real, concrete manifestation of the Eastern Orthodox Church, as it either existed in the past or today. Rather, he has put his faith in an ahistorical idealization which only exists in his airtight imagination, like dried flowers or butterflies under glass.
“All I can say is ** HUH ** ???”
Yes, that’s all he can say. I cited the Orthodox capitulation to the documentary hypothesis as an example of how Orthodoxy is not etched in stone. It is revisable—going from bad to worse.
“The Gospels are in large part a translation. Jesus wasn't generally walking around talking Greek.”
Actually, it’s quite likely that Jesus was, at the very least, bilingual. What language he used would depend on the audience.
“And yet we are willing to accept that translation because the apostles had some link to it.”
Speak for yourself. I accept it because it is an inspired translation. And even (or especially) an inspired translation must accurately render the sense of the original.
“Similarly, the apostles approved of the LXX translation by their use of it.”
Up to a point, although they don’t always quote it verbatim. And, of course, they quote it when addressing Greek speaking Gentiles or Hellenistic Jews of the Diaspora.
“But it is the LXX form of the text, not the Masoretic, that the Church used.”
Which church? The NT church was a multilingual body. The LXX was not the edition of the Bible favored by Palestinian Messianic Jews.
“Why is it so important to you that there be a canonical edition?”
You keep attacking the Protestant rule of faith on the grounds that we supposedly can’t be sure of the canon, or the text of Scripture, or the interpretation of Scripture, &c.
Presumably you regard Orthodoxy has offering a positive alternative to the alleged deficiencies in Protestantism. But if, by your own admission, you can’t do any better on the very examples you level against Evangelicalism, then you do really have ask why it’s so important? It’s important to your own argument. Pity you can’t follow your own argument.
“You are the one who is proposing that we can't really understand the scriptures unless we have them in their original, unadulterated form.”
More hyperbole. There are degrees of understanding.
What I’m saying is self-evident. Someone who reads Dante in Medieval Italian will understand him better than someone who reads him in translation. Someone who reads Racine in French will understand him better than someone who reads him in translation. Someone who reads the church fathers in Greek and Latin will understand them better than someone who reads them in translation.
This isn’t an all-or-nothing affair. You can learn a lot from a good translation. You can learn from less from an archaic translation.
The fact that Orthodox takes umbrage that the most elementary truisms just goes to show how utterly insecure he is.
“This is elite scholarship gone off the rails again.”
It’s very amusing to have a high-churchman rail against elitism. Nothing is more elitist that Orthodox ecclesiology. It’s a quintessentially hierarchical, authoritarian, top-down polity. Bishops, patriarchs, metropolitans, &c.
But there’s a big difference. In Orthodoxy (as well as Catholicism), it’s an authoritarian form of elitism.
By contrast, “elite” evangelical scholars are answerable to the laity. They have to reason with the laity. They have to make a case for their exegesis, by appeal to the evidence, rather than a blind appeal to raw authority.
“Unless you can point me very specifically to exactly where I can find the authentic people of God...”
The “authentic” people of God are God’s elect. God knows who they are.
“In short, you have no basis for a canon, so you have no basis for anything.”
More of his fact-free denials.
“The trouble is you are working with a flawed understanding of Orthodoxy, as if some unbroken chain of exegetes represents the true church.”
The trouble is that you never make a case for your own position. You think that by supposedly poking holes in the opposing position, that somehow exempts you from having to defend your own.
If your lifeboat is taking on water, then lobbing a grenade into the lifeboat beside you does nothing to prevent your own lifeboat from sinking.
Jason, I, and others have done three things in the course of this thread: (i) We’ve presented positive arguments for our own position; (ii) we’ve responded to your counterarguments, and (iii) we’ve argued against your position.
All you’ve ever done is to hurl assertions against our position, while failing to answer our counterarguments.
“Which will have limited success when it no longer exists.”
One doesn’t have to have the original to reconstruct the original with a high degree of certainty.
“I don't have to duck it, because I am not the one claiming a perfect original language bible is required to exegete a rule of faith.”
Aside from his evasive hyperbole, if the LXX is the official OT of the Orthodox Church, and if allegedly Orthodoxy offers a level of certainty absent from Evangelicalism, then, yes, indeed, he’s required to tell us where we can find the official text of the LXX.
“Again, it doesn't matter a great deal because scripture is only a part of the Tradition. Protestants have to obsess over the canon, because that's all they have and it is their only starting point. Actually, both canons are a part of the Tradition of the Christian church, but unlike Protestants, we would not be coming up with any innovative doctrines because one book or another might be in or out.”
This is a backdoor admission that Orthodoxy has no official canon of Scripture.
“Possibly the Church will at some point decide what to do with the discrepency, but the important thing is the doctrines and teachings.”
So, according to Orthodoxy, the canon is now up for grabs.
“I find your accusation disgusting and offensive. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
One will find a number of Jew-baiting remarks by Orthodox in an earlier thread:
“Are you actually in submission to any elders in your church, or are you just a loan gun?”
I’m remunerated for my black bag operations by nonsequential C-bills in unmarked manila envelopes. I can’t tell you who I report to in the NSA because that’s classified. But if you need confirmation, I have Dick Cheney on speed-dial.
My cover job is driving an ice cream truck. But I don’t sell kosher fudgsicles on pain of excommunication from the one true church.
BTW, pop-goes-the-weasel is actually a cypherpunk code, used by my fellow spooks in the NSA.
“Amazing that before accusing someone of being a Nazi you are too lazy to actually read the Quinisext canons yourself, but have to rely on some bible dictionary.”
This is funny in more than one respect:
i)”A bible dictionary”? What I quoted from was The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity, which is prefaced by a commendatory forward by a bishop of the Greek Orthodox church. If Bishop Ware recommends a reference book on Eastern Christianity, then why shouldn’t I regard this as a reliable source of information?
Who speaks for Orthodoxy? A Greek Orthodox bishop? Or some anonymous layman?
ii) There’s nothing wrong with quoting from secondary sources. They often supply the historical context or contemporary interpretation. This reference work says that “Quinisext is held by Eastern Orthodox to have an ecumenical status and authority” (396).
It was in light of this statement that I proceeded to quote its summary of canon 11. However, just to call his bluff, I went ahead and posted the actual canon:
It’s not as if the wording of the canon is any improvement over the summary.
So, according to this “ecumenical” and “authoritative” canon, a Christian should not have Jewish friends. Or a Jewish physician. A Christian should never have lunch at a Jewish deli.
There should be segregated locker rooms for Jews and Gentiles so that Christian athletes don’t have to shower with Jewish athletes.
“Very clearly, you have lost this debate.”
Uh-huh. Explain to us how you deal with canon 11 of Quinisext.
>Poor little Orthodox isn’t even conversant with
>the state of Eastern Orthodox Bible scholarship.
“Irrelevant. The bible scholars can do what they like and good luck to them. But we won't be changing the faith because of the latest theories, and we don't need the finest textual critical speculation before we have a rule of faith.”
I was quoting directly from the Historical Dictionary of The Orthodox Church. And what I quoted was not merely a descriptive statement of critical scholarship, but an approving statement.
Who are the contributors to this reference work? Here’s a little bit of their curriculum vitae:
“This Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church is the result of a joint effort by several eminent authorities. The body was written by Michael Prokurat and Alexander Golitzin,” ibid. ix.
“Michael Prokurat (M.Div., St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary [&c.])…is an archpriest in the Orthodox Church in America…Dr. Prokurat has occasionally represented the Orthodox Church in America nationally and internationally at inter-Orthodox and ecumenical convocations, holding various ecclesiastical offices during a twenty-year pastorate…He also serves on the board of trustees of the Orthodox Institute in Berkeley under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” ibid. 439.
“Alexander Golitzin (M.Div., St. Valdimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary [&c.])...has taught Eastern Orthodox history and theology at…St. Vladimir’s Seminary…He is an ordained priest of the Orthodox Church in America and a monk of the Monastery of Simonos Petras, Mount Athos. Dr. Golitzin is a member of a number of scholarly societies, among them the Byzantine Studies Conference for North America, the North American Patristics Society, the International Society of Neoplatonic Studies, the Church History Society of America, and the Orthodox Theological Society of America,” ibid. 439.
Now, who is a more creditable representative of Orthodoxy? Orthodox clergymen with degrees from St. Vladimir’s, &c., or a tinny-voiced layman who only speaks on condition of anonymity?
Did the Greek fathers believe that the Pentateuch was composed by anonymous redactors during the Babylonian exile? Or by Moses? Clearly there’s a sea change here.
“Yes, the canon of the post-Christian Hebrew people did not contain it.”
He hasn’t offered a particle of concrete evidence to substantiate that claim. He hasn’t quoted any post-Christian Jewish sources. He hasn’t even quoted any church father to that effect.
“Your responses have got so weak now that they can be ignored.”
Yes, it’s terribly weak of me to quote from a reference work endorsed by a Greek Orthodox bishop when responding to an Orthodox layman.
Orthodox is to Orthodoxy what Matatics and Sungenis are to Catholicism. They pay lip service to the hierarchy, but as soon as you start to quote the hierarchy against them, they turn crypto-Protestant on a dime.
What Orthodox is giving us is a classic specimen of do-it-yourself-Orthodoxy. He’s a self-anointed high churchman, dismissing anyone in the chain-of-command whose representations run counter to his own.
“Merely throwing out random barbs and ignoring that facts presented.”
You haven’t presented any “facts.” Just your ipse dixit.
For a presentation of the facts, read chapter 9 of David deSilva’s Introducing the Apocrypha (Baker 2004).
“If Origen, who knew more about the Jews than anybody in the Church couldn't get it right (by Protestant reckoning) about what the Jewish canon was, then what hope do you have 1800 years later?”
You haven’t quoted Origen. And Jews like Josephus trump Origen on the Jewish canon.
“Oh, but your 2000 years after the fact scholarship is all knowing and all wonderful. Yeah right.”
More of his self-reinforcing ignorance. The Jewish evidence isn’t 2000 years after the fact.