NR. 3 – 2010

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2010.3

Pr. Viorel IONIȚĂ — Die Apostolizität der Kirche aus der Sicht der Rumänischen Orthodoxen Kirche

Rezumat: Apostolicitatea Bisericii din punctul de vedere al Bisericii Ortodoxe Române

Tema Apostolicității Bisericii stă în strânsă legătură cu temele ultimelor două întruniri de dialog dintre Biserica Ortodoxă Română și Biserica Evanghelică din Germania. Cu privire la tematica acestei întâlniri, Sf. Sinod al Bisericii Ortodoxe Române a recomandat, la sesiunea sa din 29 noiembrie 2008, ca temele ce urmează să fie discutate în cadrul acestui dialog să fie tratate dintr-o perspectivă pastoral-misionară și că acest dialog va trebui să folosească o metodologie care să reflecte cooperarea practică dintre aceste Biserici, precum si aplicarea sa la situația concretă a diasporei românești din Germania. În acest studiu este prezentat mai întâi felul cum tema Apostolicității a fost abordată în următoarele documente ecumenice: 1. Documentul de la Lima, intitulat „Botez, Euharistie și Preoție, din 1982; 2. Documentul „Mărturisind împreună credința cea una”, publicat de către Comisia Credință și Constituție în 1996; 3. Documentul „Ființa și Misiunea Bisericii“, publicat de aceeași comisie în 2005 și 4. Un exemplu din dialogul teologic ortodox-vechi catolic. Autorul arată, în continuare, că pe baza moștenirii patristice și în urma confruntării cu lumea modernă și cu alte tradiții teologice în cadrul mișcării ecumenice, teologia ortodoxă s-a dezvoltat de o foarte mult, tocmai în legătură cu Ecclesiologia. Unul din teologii care au adus o contribuție specială în acest sens a fost Pr. Prof. Dumitru Stăniloae (19003-1993), pe baza căruia autorul a elaborat următoarele aspecte ale Apostolicității Bisericii:

  1. Apostolicitatea Bisericii, drept una din caracteristicile esențiale ale acesteia, se bazează pe mandatul special al Apostolilor. Iisus Hristos nu a dat această misiune specială nici unei persoane anume și nici mulțimilor, ci unui grup restrâns de 12 Apostoli. Prin misiunea specială a Apostolilor, Apostolicitatea primește un caracter comunitar;
  2. Apostolii nu au fost niciodată considerați ca „temei” al Bisericii în mod separat, ci numai în raport direct cu Hristos, căci Hristos este adevăratul temei; Apostolii sunt temei numai în măsura în care poartă pe Hristos;
  3. Apostolii au fost primii care au primit pe Duhul Sfânt. Evenimentul Rusaliilor i-a confirmat pe Apostoli de o manieră întreită: 1. în apostolatul lor netransmisibil; 2. in identitatea lor de creștini și 3. în sarcina lor de a transmite mandatul primit de la Hristos episcopilor;
  4. Biserica este considerată „apostolică“, pentru că Apostolii au fost primii care L-au cunoscut pe Hristos in mod autentic, ca și pentru faptul că Biserica a primit de la Apostoli credința in Hristos și asigurarea învierii Lui;
  5. Apostolicitatea Bisericii leagă istoria ei cu prezentul. Diferitele generații de credincioși sunt uniți cu Hristos prin credința apostolică păstrată în eficiența și deplinătatea sa în Biserică prin Duhul Sfânt;
  6. Apostolicitatea Bisericii are și o dimensiune eshatologică în sensul că Biserica privește spre plinătatea ei, spre venirea împărăției lui Dumnezeu, in duhul Apostolilor;
  7. Apostolicitatea Bisericii se bazează atât pe succesiune doctrinei, ca și pe succesiunea slujirii, prin care credința cea autentică în Iisus Hristos este păstrată și confirmată prin șirul neîntrerupt de episcopi de la apostoli până astăzi;
  8. Apostolicitatea Bisericii nu se transmite prin persoane individuale, ci prin episcopi totdeauna în comuniune cu întreaga Biserică. Aceste două dimensiuni ale Apostolicității sunt nedespărțite și fără una din ele Apostolicitatea Bisericii nu este deplină.

Pr. Georgian PĂUNOIU — Scrierile Sfântului Isaac Sirul și circulația lor în lumea creștină

Summary: The Writings of St. Isaac the Syrian and Their Circulation Throughout the Christian World

The very rich tradition of manuscripts and text editions proves that the writings of St. Isaac the Syrian enjoyed widespread circulation, as they were read, translated and constantly re-published both in the East and West. Studied by the Church Fathers, Islam mystics, Christian writers, ascetics and contemporary scholars alike, St. Isaac has not remained an isolated, obscure author of a thriving age of Syriac literature, but he has enjoyed general appreciation since the 9th century to this day. Scholarly research into the writings of St. Isaac of Niniveh acknowledges three parts as authentic.

As early as the 9th century, Part I of St. Isaac’s writings was translated from Syriac into Arabian, Greek and Georgian language. The extant manuscripts were drafted in St. Sabbas Monastery, near Jerusalem. The Arabian translation dates from 885-886, whereas the Georgian one was produced two decades later (906). The Greek translation was made by Abraham and Patrick, two monks of St. Sabbas community. It was the basis for subsequent Greek versions.

Discovered in 1983 by Prof. Sebastian P. Brock in the Bodleian Library of Oxford University, Part II contains 41 Speeches. As it had not been translated into Greek, this part went unknown. The texts of this Part have already been translated into Italian, Catalan (partially), Russian (incompletely), French and Romanian.

Part III has been preserved in a Tehran manuscript and contains 17 Speeches. Employing a copy of this manuscript, Sabino Chialà, a monk in Bose community, produced in 2004 the Italian version of Part III. The texts in this collection have been so far published in Italian, Romanian and French.

More than two and a half centuries after the printing of St. Isaac’s texts in Latin, a new edition was issued in Greek, by hieromonk Nikeforos Theotokis (1731-1800), urged and supported by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Ephrem. The issue edited by Nikeforos Theotokis was printed at Leipzig, in 1770, then sent to monasteries of Palestine, Greece, Mount Athos and the Romanian Principalities. It was reprinted in Athens, in late 19th century, by hieromonk Joachim Spetsieris, whose edition faithfully maintained the contents of Theotokis’ version. Four out of the 86 Speeches certainly belong to another Syriac author, John Saba („the Elder”/of Dalyatha): 2, 7, 43 and 80. The Greek manuscripts contain a letter sent by Isaac to a certain Symeon, a wonder worker. The text actually belongs to Philoxenus, bishop of Mabboug/Hierapolis (†523), and is part of a letter addressed by Philoxenus to Patricius, an anchorite living near Edessa. The edition issued by Nikeforos Theotokis was a referential text for numerous 19th- and 20th- century translations all over the world.

Beside the „Syriac Isaac” and a „Greek” one, there is also an „Arabian” one. Numerous fragments of Isaac’s writings were translated from Syrian into Arabian in late 9th century by Ibn as-Salt, in an Anbar monastery, near Euphrates. Ibn as-Salt selected the most important excerpts of St. Isaac’s Speeches, while adapting the original text to provide a concentrated Arabian version. Another Arabian translator of St. Isaac’s works is deacon ‛Abdallah Ibn al-Fadl (9th century). Other old Arabian manuscripts indicate as translator a certain Ya’qub, of whom we have no information.

The extant Ethiopian manuscripts contain 33-35 Speeches, all included in Part I.

Starting from the Greek version, the Latin translation of St. Isaac’s writings was produced in the 13th century, although it did not contain the integral text. Isaac the Syrian (7th century) was mistaken for another Isaac of Syriac origin (6th century), who arrived at Monteluco, near Spoleto, and who is mentioned by Gregory the Great in the third volume of his Dialogues. The Greek-Latin translation was ascertained for the 13th century, according to the date of the oldest Latin manuscript, ascribed to the Franciscan Pietro da Fossombrone, also known as Angelo Clareno (1255/60-1337), a committed translator of many Patristic writings, among which the Ladder of St. John of Sinai. So far, 42 Latin manuscripts have been discovered, 4 of them in the Iberic Peninsula, beside the printed editions: Barcelona (1497), Venice (1506).

We mention the collection of Patristic works containing St. Isaac’s texts, edited by the Swiss reformed theologian Johann Jacob Grynaeus (Gryner), in 1569. The oldest translation of St. Isaac’s works in a Romanic language seems to be the French version (13th-14th century).

1364 is the year of the first Slavonic translation of St. Isaac’s Speeches. The text includes Part I Speeches. It is very likely that the one who prompted the translations of the writings of great hesychast Fathers was St. Gregory of Sinai (1255-1346).

Alongside other Church Fathers, St. Isaac the Syrian stirred the interest of Paisios Velicikovski. The latter’s manuscripts greatly influenced Russian spirituality. Resorting to older manuscripts, Paisios’ disciples printed in 1819, at Neamt Monastery, the Romanian translation of the Speeches of St. Isaac the Syrian.

Two Russian editions were issued in 1854: the one of Optina and the one edited by the Spiritual Academy of Moscow. Employing the Russian edition of Moscow’s Theological Academy, the Japanese translator Fuku Horie published the Japanese text of Part I of St. Isaac’s writings in 1909.

We mention the translation of Part I provided by Father Dumitru Stăniloae, published in 1981, as the tenth volume of the Philokalia. The tradition of Romanian manuscripts is extremely rich, demonstrating the wide circulation of St. Isaac the Syrian’s texts.


Pr. George V. PALADE— „«Botezul Domnului» în iconografia bisericilor din nordul Moldovei și «Zapisul lui Adam»”

Abstract: “Lord’s Baptism” in the iconography of Northern Moldavian churches, and “Adam’s covenant”

The iconographical study presents and analyzes the “Lord’s Baptism” icons in northern Moldavia, whose common peculiarity is their placing in the Saviour’s left hand a scroll bearing the words: “Adam’s covenant”. Starting from the liturgical event of the Baptism, the study dwells on the beauty of divine services and reveals the importance and richness of liturgical hymns and their consecrated authors, the great patristic and philokalic theologians: St. John Damascene (†749), St. Cosmas of Maiuma or the Melodist (†781), St. Andrew of Crete (†740) or St. Joseph of Studion (†829). Their poetic creations stem from their meditations on New Testament texts and theologize about the Lord’s Baptism. Church history tells us that the icon of “The Lord’s Baptism” accompanied the liturgical life of the early Christian centuries, and was present in the iconographic and liturgical worship program.

Within the iconographic programs of the Romanian Principalities, the Baptism icons of Sucevița deserve special attention, due to their unique representation of “Adam’s covenant” held by the Saviour. The first of these frescoes, painted under Ieremia Movilă (1595-1604), appears in the porch of the Resurrection church, on its western wall, within the series dedicated to St. John the Baptist’s life. The second Baptismal fresco to be found at the Lavra of Sucevița, is painted on the western wall of the narthex, and pertains to the menologion of January, 7. The third iconographic representation of the Baptism at Sucevița is painted at the bottom of the steeple surmounting the nave, within the festal icons series. The fresco, of semicircular shape, is rich in pictorial elements although “Adam’s covenant” is missing from the Saviour’s hand. Similar in style and contents to those of Sucevița, are the Baptism icons in the nave of the Pentecost Church of Dragomirna Monastery, which feature the “covenant” and are studied in order to highlight the iconographic peculiarities and complete the iconographic manuals. The analysis of “Adam’s covenant” leads us to other iconographic representations of the “covenant”, such as the icons: “Wanting to bestow grace on debtors…” (the 12th kontakion of the Akathist Hymn to the Annunciation), “Here Adam wrote his covenant” within the series “Adam’s expulsion from Paradise”, “The Descent into Hell” as well as “the Last Judgment” and “The Aerial Toll Houses”. The conclusion shows that the researchers into our old literature, as well as the historians of our medieval art, wrongly employ the phrase “Adam’s covenant” to designate an apocryphal legend of gnostic inspiration, The Life of Adam and Eve. The phrase “Adam’s covenant” was consecrated by the Holy Fathers in our Church’s hymnography and is rooted in the words of Apostle Paul, who wrote to the Colossians that our Saviour Jesus Christ “blotted out the record of debt that stood against us, nailing it to the cross and having disarmed the powers and authorities” (Col. 2:14). It represents an iconographical symbol both for the original sin and the soteriological fact of the restoration of God’s image within the man, by the New Adam, our Saviour Jesus Christ. The composition of the icon of “Lord’s Baptism” in its totally original version of the “covenant” is unique within the Byzantine iconography. It deepens the theological dimension of the icon, and deserves better attention. It reveals the wisdom of both iconographers and those having commissioned the icons.


Daniela BOLOZAN — Femeia în referatul creației – elemente de antropologie

Abstract: The Woman in the Biblical Account of Creation: Elements of Anthropology

Starting from an exegesis of the Hebrew text of the biblical account of the creation –  as literal, objective and especially freed from outdated notions rooted in the Jewish tradition as possible –  I have endeavoured to answer questions posed throughout the times, concerning the feminine anthropology. Is woman anthropologically equal or inferior to man, does she rank second within the creation? Is she equally made in the image of God? Is the text of Genesis 3, 16 an argument for subjecting her, in the sense and ways she has been humiliated, oppressed, deprived of the rights due to her as a being created in the image of God?

In order to answer this question, we must first settle a great confusion over the term אָדָם, a confusion maintained by faulty translations, as I am convinced that the correct interpretation of this term may provide the key to many anthropological issues.

According to the Hebrew-English dictionary, אָדָם signifies „the human being”, „mankind”, thus having a collective, generic meaning. The term אָדָם is not actually a proper name, but the generic name given to the human race. Up to the text of Genesis 4, 25, where Adam is first employed as a proper noun, the term אָדָם has an exclusively collective meaning, which implies that both man and woman were created in the image of God. They both received the blessing to breed, they were both, equally and indiscriminately, commanded to have dominion, not one over the other, but together over the rest of God’s creation. Imago Dei is not a masculine privilege, but concerns the human being, man and woman. Thus, an ontological equality of man and woman is clearly postulated in the first chapter of the Genesis and, as we shall see, in the second chapter as well. The traditional notion, shared by the vast majority of Christian commentators and theologians before the 20th century, is that, according to the second chapter of the Genesis, the woman was created with inferior nature to man’s, due to the fact that she was made out of his rib and brought to life later, hence her exclusion from any type of leadership or authority within the family, Church, or society. Traditional interpretations of this account suggest that the woman, called „helper” in verse 2, 18, is merely an assistant or a subordinate helping her master or superior. However, they ignore the fact that Hebrew language does not imply such a connotation. Being a „helper” is not an unimportant role, as God Himself is called a „helper” in several Old Testament texts. The term עֵזֶר – „helper”, frequently appears in biblical accounts next to the name of God, as the one who helps and saves the Jewish people (Exodus 18, 1; Deuteronomy 33, 7, 26; Psalms 33, 20; 70, 5; 115, 9, 10, 11). As this term is most often associated with God, it cannot designate inferiority. And if we accepted the notion of an ambivalent connotation of the term „helper”, as expressing both equality and inferiority, associating this term with the adverbial preceded by the preposition כְּ, כְּנֶגְדּוֹ, which is translated as „suitable/meet for him”, establishes a non-hierarchical relationship between man and woman, and implies the notion of equality.

The woman was not subordinate to man upon creation, but only after the fall, when God announced her punishment, by which her husband rules over her (Genesis 3, 16).

It is only in Christ that woman may be truly honoured as a being created in the image of God. It is in the perspective of mankind’s recapitulation in Christ, as God and Man, that we must understand the antinomic words of the Holy Apostle Paul: „There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3, 28) and „…woman is not independent of man, or man of woman, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11, 11).


Ilie CHIȘCARI — Ponțiu Pilat – persecutor sau mărturisitor al lui Hristos? Ponțiu Pilat în simbolurile de credință ale bisericii primare

Summary: Pontius Pilate – a persecutor or a confessor of Christ? Pontius Pilate in the early Church Creeds

The announcement that Christ had been crucified by sentence of Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect of Judaea, represents the first step in the developement of what might have seemed an unimportant historical detail into a vital element of faith, which ultimately provided Christians with a succint formula to describe the Lord in whom they believed. The fourth article of the Christian Church’s Creed contains the following words: «and was crucified under Pontius Pilate» (σταυρωθέντα τε ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου). Although, at first glance, mentioning Pilate seems to be a mere historical reference, things become more complicated when we attempt to explain its exact meaning and determine the reasons for introducing it in the profession of faith. In an attempt to shed some light on the matter, we open our study with a few considerations on the origin and mentionings of this formula – as well as other similar ones, containing Pilate’s name – in the professions of faith of the first Christian centuries. We will easily find that this formula developed semi-independently from the contexts it was introduced in, and was almost exclusively preferred in the fragments expressing the contents of Christian faith. «He was crucified under Pontius Pilate» has become, since the very beginnings of the Church, a description of Jesus Christ, first introduced in the Occidental Creeds, then sanctioned and adopted by the Ecumenical Councils. We may therefore assert that the formula «under Pontius Pilate» was not put forth by the second council, where it became official, but is the retrieval of an older formula, first mentioned in 1 Ti 6, 13.

In order to grasp the sense with which it was incorporated in the Constantinopolitan Creed, we go on to ascertain the precise significance of ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου in the Holy Scripture and the patristic writings. Thus, starting from an analysis of 1 Ti 6, 13, we examine the various translations and interpretations of the phrase, as well as the information conveyed by each version. A first meaning is the temporal one, rendering the setting of the Passions drama, within the imperial history. It tells us that the Saviour was crucified in the year 30 or 33 A.D., while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea. Therefore, ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου in the Creed presents the kairos of those climactic events of Christian history. A second possible meaning is the local one, referring to the physical presence of our Saviour before Pontius Pilate, as an argument in favour of the reality of Christ’s incarnation, against Gnostic heresies, as well as an identification element for a topos of His Passion. The final possible version is the juridical/declarative one, by considering Pilate not only as a temporal-local reference, but also as an active element, a witness and a decisive factor for the respective events. His testimony specifically concerns the contents of our Saviour’s deeds and words, which Pilate witnessed.

Ascribing Pilate an active role in the Passions, according to the third interpretation of ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου, parallels the interesting history of his perception in the period following the emergence of the Creeds. Pontius Pilate gradually gains prominence by the various ways he is set in relation with the history he had directly determined. Although the New Testament tells us nothing of Pilate after the events associated to Christ’s crucifixion, Christians compensated for this lack of information by producing numerous stories and legends, most of them questionable, which provide several imaginary representations of this character. In the second part of our study, we provide a phenomenological analysis, along the lines of the „history of effects”, by considering the perceptions of Pilate’s character and role in various interpretative contexts of the Christian Symbol of the Faith. The different receptions of the sources and traditions concerning Pontius Pilate have thus resulted in two main representations. On the one hand, Pilate has become for some the „type” of the unfair judge, of the cowardly, blackmailable ruler, of the oppressor of the righteous and the accomplice of the wicked; in brief, the tool of Satan and one of the most malevolent characters in history, which brought his well-deserved violent death. On the other hand, this character was seen as a totally different „type” of the one who sees and believes, who confesses his faith and lays down his life for it; in brief, a paragon of saintliness and martyrdom.

What will one feel, then, on uttering the name of Pontius Pilate in the Creed, during each Holy Liturgy? Will one think of him as a persecutor and killer of Christ, or as one who received the confession of Christ and confessed Him in his turn? The answer depends on how each community has perceived, in its tradition, the outcome of the various metamorphoses undergone by the figure of this Roman prefect, throughout the times. Thus, the phrase «under Pontius Pilate» will be understood according to one’s adherence to one of these theological representations or will remain a mere historical mention to those uninterested in deepening its meaning.


Justin A. MIHOC — The Ascension Narratives in Luke-Acts

Rezumat: Descrierile Înălțării în Evanghelia după Luca și Faptele Apostolilor

Pe parcursul acestui articol am încercat să ofer o analiză a textelor lucane ce descriu Înălțarea Mântuitorului (Lc 24, 50-53; FA 1, 9-11), precum și o interpretare teologică a pericopelor ce urmează modelul exegezei patristice. Metodologic, analizele diacronică (critică textuală, a formei și a sursei) și cea sincronică (critică narativă) sunt combinate pentru a fixa baza pe care se poate construi o lectură teologică a textului ca scriptură canonică.

În epistolele pauline Înălțarea Domnului pare de multe ori unită cu Învierea și sunt înțelese ca un singur eveniment; în scrierile Sfântului Luca, însă, cele două evenimente sunt prezentate ca fiind în mod cert ca fiind distincte. O influență puternică în construcția descrierii au avut-o tradițiile vechi-testamentare ale răpirii profetului Ilie. Însă tradițiile răpirii lui Ilie nu reprezintă singurele surse folosite de Sfântul Luca (vezi, de asemenea, relația tipologică cu Moise). În acele vremuri, în lumea greco-romană speculațiile despre răpiri la cer au evoluat într-un set complex de idei.

Înălțarea Mântuitorului la cer este prezentată de către Sfântul evanghelist Luca de două ori, la sfârșitul Evangheliei sale și în introducerea Faptelor Apostolilor. Mulți autori și comentatori pun accentul pe centralitatea scenei Înălțării în operele lucane. Pe de-o parte evanghelia se sfârșește cu o scurtă descriere a evenimentului, punctul culminant al existenței fizice a Domnului pe pământ. Pe de altă parte, cartea Faptele Apostolilor începe cu descrierea lungă a Înălțării, dovedind scopul Sfântului Luca de a plasa scena Înălțării ca punctul cheie al celor două cărți. Centralitatea episodului Înălțării în operele lucane este acceptată de majoritatea exegeților contemporani, ea exprimând teologia adâncă a autorului. Prin plasarea descrierilor sale în finalul evangheliei și începutul Faptelor Apostolilor, Sfântul Luca ne oferă un indiciu al importanței acestui eveniment care reprezintă atât un sfârșit (o încheiere), cât și un început. Această idee este confirmată și de importanța acordată de Biserica ortodoxă a sărbătorii Înălțării, fiind unul dintre praznicele Împărătești.

Structura sintactică a descrierii Înălțării corespunde forței semantice a episodului prezentat de Sfântul Luca în cele două cărți. Astfel, ultimul capitol al evangheliei este legat de primul capitol din Faptele Apostolilor, dovedind unitatea dintre cele două volume. Este general acceptat de către cercetătorii bibliști faptul că cele două descrieri ale Înălțării reprezintă o parte integrală a Sfântului Luca și nicidecum o interpolare ulterioară. Diferențele dintre cele două relatări (Lc 24, 50-52; FA 1, 9-11) pot fi explicate prin funcția literară specifică a fiecăreia dintre ele.

Comparând cele două descrieri ale Înălțării vedem două perspective diferite ale aceluiași autor. În prima este preocupat doar de relatarea pe scurt a sfârșitului misiunii pe pământ a Mântuitorului pentru a încheia Evanghelia. În cea de-a doua înțelegem semnificația Înălțării lui Hristos ca început al misiunii Bisericii creștine și acesta este motivul pentru care Sfântul Luca adaugă mai multe detalii descrierii din FA 1, 9-11 (Înălțarea pe nor, apariția celor doi îngeri, însărcinarea apostolilor cu misiunea de propovăduirii și promisiunea întoarcerii Mântuitorului în același fel). Autorul omite din descriere locul exact al Înălțării (cu toate că ne oferă mai multe amănunte în această privință decât în Lc 24) precum și audiența. Tradiția afirmă că mai mulți decât cei unsprezece erau de față ca martori ai plecării Domnului la cer.

În cele două volume ale sale, autorul prezintă același eveniment istoric în două moduri diferite, o caracteristică a stilului lucan. Înălțarea nu este prezentată istoric, nu se oferă informații detaliate sau exacte despre locul, timpul sau martorii acesteia, ci eshatologic, ca moment de crucială importanță pentru îndumnezeirea naturii umane și potențializarea îndumnezeirii omului. De asemenea, ea reprezintă o necesitate în istoria mântuirii și pentru că deschide calea pogorârii Duhului Sfânt. Numai prin Înălțare Sfinții Apostoli puteau primi harul Duhului promis de Mântuitorul pentru începerea misiunii de propovăduire a Evangheliei. Astfel Înălțarea reprezintă premisa dezvoltării Bisericii creștine. Înălțarea trebuie tratată în legătură cu celelalte momente importante ale istoriei Mântuirii, Patimile, Moartea și Învierea, și a fost înțeleasă astfel de către Sfântul Luca. De asemenea, sărbătorirea ei era unită cu cea a Cincizecimii, fiind considerată indivizibilă de aceasta. Mărturii ale sărbătoririi Înălțării Domnului unită cu Pogorârea Duhului Sfânt se găsesc încă din perioada Bisericii primare.

Sfinții Părinți văd în Înălțare o ridicare la cer a umanității lui Hristos și, cu aceasta, a întregii naturi umane restaurate și îndumnezeite. Înălțarea trebuie înțeleasă ca un act teandric, o înălțare reală și nu numai spirituală, ci mai ales fizică. În momentul înălțării natura umană a Mântuitorului nu este absorbită de cea divină, așa cum afirmă unii comentatori apuseni, ci ea este îndumnezeită, este desăvârșită. Natura umană este ridicată la cel mai înalt spațiu, lângă tronul lui Dumnezeu Tatăl. Prin Înălțare, Biserica primește prin mărturia apostolică promisiunea celei de-a doua veniri în slavă a Mântuitorului la Parusie.


Teodora TECULESCU — Perspectiva biblică asupra practicilor funerare în Israelul Antic

Summary: The Biblical Perspective on Funeral Rites in Ancient Israel

Funeral rites of Ancient Israel express the old Jewish vision on man, death and afterlife, since no ritual could be adopted if it weren’t rooted in faith. Any aspect of old Jewish burial is relevant and should be interpreted only in its proper Jewish context.

Like the Babylonians, Jews did not see death as a total annihilation of the being. The afterlife was imagined as low-intensity life, the dead having in general a dim kind of existence. Terms such as nephesh, ruah and neșama, usually translated by “soul” or “spirit”, are only rarely used as elements distinct from the body, therefore there is no clear-cut distinction between soul and body, and man is seen as a unity. Thus, as long as the body exists (at least the bones), the soul exists too, as a shadow, in a very weak condition; a living person is a “living soul”, while a dead person is a “dead soul”.

The Jews understood we all die sooner or later and saw in this a natural occurrence. The Old Testament provides no example of Jews who manifested any excessive fear of death. The Patriarchs “join their parents” without any disappointment or regret. After death, all people share the same unfortunate condition, but is was considered that their fate depended on the attention given to them by the living: adequate funerals, bringing food or beverages to the graveside (although the Bible does not mention this custom), and especially preserving their name, hence the importance of having children through whom the dead “lived on” within the respective community.

Funeral rites knew various forms during Antiquity. The Bible shows they slightly differed in the times of the Patriarchs, the Pentateuch legislation, after the settling in Palestine and in the New Testament times.

Immediately after death, relatives or friends would close the eyes and mouth of the deceased, then gave them a final hug and kiss, and prepared the body for burial. Cremation was only used for infractors or the cursed ones. Burial, or deposition within caves, generally did not presuppose a coffin, except for the cases of Jacob and Joseph.

There is no Scriptural argument as to how long after death the burial was performed, but, because of the climate and the absence of embalming practices, it most likely took place on the same day as death.

What all burials had in common throughout the times was the mourning. In brief, in first- and second-century Palestine, mourning included: tearing one’s clothes, weeping, lamenting, fasting, flinging oneself to the ground, shaving the head, putting on sackcloth, walking barefoot, cutting or covering the beard, body cuts, putting ash on one’s head, or putting the hands on one’s head.

The dead one was mourned for, then buried, after the “mourning days”. Mourning could last up to seven days; however, Egyptians mourned for Jacob for seventy days. During the Levirate period, mourning generally lasted for 7 days, as in the Patriarchs’ times, but lamenting for national leaders such as Aaron and Moses lasted for 30 days after their burial.

Mourning differed according to one’s rank in the priestly hierarchy, given the fact that touching a dead body defiled the one who did so. Thus, the priests according to the order of Aaron were allowed to mourn by weeping, tearing their clothes, loosening their hair, but were not allowed to touch the deceased one, which would have defiled them; however, they could touch their closest relatives: mother, father, son, daughter, siblings. The great priest was not allowed to tear his vestments, to uncover his head or to touch any dead person, not even his mother of father. Nazirites weren’t allowed to touch any dead person, including their parents, brothers or sisters.

Although the Old Testament does not provide many details concerning funerals, it clearly reveals the wish to keep in touch with one’s community, even after one’s death. This presupposed entombing successive generations in the family grave, generally a cave or a grave carved in rock, “adding oneself to one’s people” in familial solidarity.

The writings subsequent to the settling in Palestine provide additional information on funeral rites. We learn that the dead person’s relatives had to wash them, wrap them in a white shroud, then place them on a bed full of “spices and other fragrances” and that many incenses were burned.

The graves were generally carved in rock (especially for wealthy families) or sand (for the poor ones), outside the towns (with a few exceptions); it was most desirable to entomb one in the family grave, however a substitute could be used, or a foreign tomb. A dishonouring burial was to throw the killed one in a pit and pile stones or, worst of all, performing no burial at all.

The New Testament gives further information on funeral rites in Ancient Israel: the washing ritual is very important, then the corpse is wrapped in the shroud, the mourning is extended to 30 days and finally 12 months. Mourning was only complete after collecting the bones, which was probably the reason for extending the mourning period.

In studying any old religion, death is greatly significant as an existential event. Many times, the only extant material traces relate to death: graves, objects accompanying the deceased person, or funerary inscriptions. The same applies to Ancient Israel. Therefore, deepening our vision on death is, paradoxically, a lesson on life.

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