Meeting The Orthodox (Page 22 of 25)

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By: Fr. Thomas Hopko
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22. The Bible

We have not talked much about the Church itself. For example, what about the Bible? Do the Orthodox use the Bible as other Christians do?

For the Orthodox, the Bible is the book of the Church, written by and for those who believe in God and constitute His People. The Four Gospels are the center of the Bible, just as Christ is the center of the Church. For this reason the Four Gospels are always enthroned on the altar in the Orthodox Church building.

The Orthodox generally interpret the Bible in terms of Christ. In this sense, the Old Testament is partial in that it prepares for the time of Christ, the Messiah, who fulfills its message and history.

The New Testament writings are also centered around Christ and tell of His action in the world and in the Church through the Holy Spirit.

Thus the Orthodox position about the Bible, would be that the New Testament is prefigured in the Old, and the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New.

The Bible is central in the life of the Church and gives both form and content to the Church’s liturgical and sacramental worship, just as to its theology and spiritual life. Nothing in the Orthodox Church can be opposed to what is revealed in the Bible. Everything in the Church must be biblical.

The Bible itself, however, not only determines and judges the life of the Church, but is itself judged by the Church since it “comes alive” and receives its proper interpretation and significance only within the life of the Church as actually lived and experienced by the People of God.

This would be the basic Orthodox approach to the Bible. Very sadly however, it must be mentioned that the knowledge of the Bible among Orthodox is not very great. There is a conscious attempt being made today to renew the reading and meditation of the scriptures by the faithful of the Church.

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